Concepts

The Qabalah teaches that our universe evolved organically and sequentially, following the Path of the Flaming Sword (Figure 3). From a mysterious Unmanifest emerged Kether then Chokmah then Binah. These three formed the Supernal Triangle, a spiritual height bridged by the invisible Sephira, Daath. Chesed, Geburah and Tiphareth formed the Ethical Triangle. Finally, with Netzach, Hod and Yesod, the Astral Triangle (Figure 4) was created. Malkuth, it will be seen, stands alone at the base of the Tree, conspicuously removed from the rest, particularly when Daath is imagined at the upper point opposite Yesod. It is the recipient of the influences of all the other Sephiroth, containing the reflected perfection of Kether, while at the same time being the product of what is described as the Fall.

Three Pillars
Figure 3. The Path of the Flaming Sword

Figure 4. The Triangles of the Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is divided into three Pillars (Figure 5). The Sephiroth on the right side are on the Pillar of Mercy, those on the left, the Pillar of Severity and those at the center, the Middle Pillar. Each Sephira is perfectly balanced by its opposite. Moreover, each Path is the perfect balance between the two Sephiroth which it connects, and of the Path opposite it.

(The Middle Pillar) MILDNESS

(The Middle Pillar) MILDNESS

Sephira Daath Ses Mysteres
Figure 5. The Pillars on the Tree of Life

This glyph is a compound symbol which may be considered at two levels: It is the individual, the Microcosm (God in miniature) and the Macrocosm, the Greater Universe in the image of which the individual is created. Each Sephira is related to some part of the human body, and with a corresponding part of a greater Divine Body. The principle involved is expressed by the axiom which we will often repeat, "As above, so below."

There are a number of areas of traditional Qabalah which may be somewhat confusing, but which are actually very simple. One of these areas is the application of "man" to the Tree, and involves two separate concepts. The first concept is that of ADAM KADMON ("The Grand Old Man of the Zohar"). Adam, Kadmon is all ten Sephiroth, a great organic unity, a spiritual body in which each of us might be considered a single cell carrying all of the potential attributes of the whole.

Adam Kadmon should not be confused with ARIKH ANPIN or ZAUER ANPIN, the other two personifications covering more than one Sephira. Arikh Anpin means the Vast Face or Countenance; Zauer Anpin means the Lesser Face or Countenance. Arik Anpin is Macroprosopus an anthropomorphization of the Sephiroth of the Supernal Triangle. Zauer Anpin is Microprosopus, the five Sephiroth around Tiphareth. Together they illustrate the principle of "As above, so below."

To reiterate, Adam Kadmon means the whole Tree of life pictured as a man. Arikh Anpin is the man above; Zauer Anpin is the man below.

The idea of each part of the human body having some Divine correlate is perhaps more readily comprehensible to an Easterner than a Westerner. The Yogin has no difficulty dealing with the concept of certain centers of spiritual activity within the physical body. The Solar Plexus is the sun center in man, a link between the individual and the solar powers of the universe. The physical center has the potential to be ennervated, consciousness transferred to it, and the individual brought into direct contact with the pure energy which is, in the Qabalistic system, called Tiphareth.

An important part of practical work with the Hermetic Qabalah involves the exercise of the Middle Pillar,™ where the energies of the Sephiroth are purposely invoked and built up within the individual. In this exercise the Sephiroth are reversed, i.e., Chesed is at the left shoulder, and Geburah is at the right, since they are considered subjectively within the body rather than being viewed from outside.

Practical work on the Tree also involves traveling the Paths connecting the Sephiroth, the objective centers of energy. The Paths are the subjective experience of passing from one Sephiroth to the next. But insofar as there is a constant flow and motion within the universe, there is a constant flow as energy passes down from one Sephira to another and up again. The universe is like a gigantic circuit, where power flows into Kether from the Unmanifest, down through the Tree and up again. There is a continual renewal of energy. Thus, when viewed from another frame of reference, the Paths may be considered objective. They are subjective for us, yet they are objective in that they carry a constant flow of energy of such specificity as to be expressable as the Major

Arcana of the Tarot. In other words, we can study the Tree of Life intellectually, or build it in ourseves. We can approach the Tarot cards symbolizing the Paths from within or without.

When the cards are used individually for astral projection, they are graphic and subjective symbols of that which is experienced on the Paths between the Sephiroth. Here they might also be described as that which is required to pass from one Sephiroth to the next. They define stages of personal development. On the other hand, when the Trumps appear in a divination, they are viewed from without, and are objective forces affecting the question. A large number of these Trumps, appearing in a spread, shows forces entirely beyond the control of the Querent.

"Path working," particularly when it involves the Tarot cards, has a high degree of mystery and romance attached to it (as does all astral projection), but the experiences are very practical. To be of any use, the inner lessons must be applied to our every day lives.

The whole process of spiritual development involves a bringing into balance of the component parts of the personality, so that it may function in conscious cooperation with the Higher Self. But when this process is described by the Mystery Schools in terms of the Four Elements, Fire, Water, Air and Earth, it may sound remote and mysterious. It is not. We grow by learning perfect control over ourselves within our chosen environment, to the point that we are no longer at the mercy of that environment. This is a spiritual suicide mission for the personality, and for the whole concept of "self' as it exists within an incarnation. This is a process which is natural to everyone, but which is accelerated by focusing attention on it.

The Tree of Life imposes a defining pattern on qualities of the personality and work of personal development which is already in progress. Thus, one feels affinities or antagonisms toward certain Tarot cards, depending upon the extent to which their lessons have already been learned. By purposely studying and using the Paths, we take hold of our own spiritual learning process, forcing attention to many important Paths which we might otherwise choose to avoid.

The fact that the Qabalah demands attention to all parts of a given whole, makes it an ideal system for intentionally affecting spiritual growth. It demonstrates that we exist in a rational and graded system. It suggests where we come from and where we go. There is none of the vaguery of other systems. And, as the symbolic parts of the human body are related to the Tree, so are the various aspects of the Soul (Figure 6). We go from the lowest aspect of manifestation to the highest, the Yechidah of Kether, the Primal Point to which we aspire.

All major religions teach that it is our heritage to return to some Primal Point from which we evolved. This is expressed as "heaven," or "nirvana," or whatever is the ultimate happy state promised by the faith. But of all the metaphysical systems available in the west, only the Qabalah suggests the extent to which we progress through a natural course of development, as if through a school, moving from one grade to another.

Supernal Triangle

Figure 6. The Divisions of the Soul. Note here that the Neschamah of Binah defines the entire Supernal Triangle, in the same way that Binah's planet, Saturn, is also taken to mean the three upper Sephiroth.

The scheme shown here is that taught by the Golden Dawn. Later writers such as Fortune and Case perceived a problem in that the "animal instincts" given to Malkuth were better related to Yesod. Ruach, i.e. Microprosopus, Lesser Countenance, was divided into Upper and Lower, Higher Self and Personality.

Figure 6. The Divisions of the Soul. Note here that the Neschamah of Binah defines the entire Supernal Triangle, in the same way that Binah's planet, Saturn, is also taken to mean the three upper Sephiroth.

The scheme shown here is that taught by the Golden Dawn. Later writers such as Fortune and Case perceived a problem in that the "animal instincts" given to Malkuth were better related to Yesod. Ruach, i.e. Microprosopus, Lesser Countenance, was divided into Upper and Lower, Higher Self and Personality.

In the Order of the Golden Dawn, the members were graded according to the highest Sephira to which they had been ritually advanced. 0=0 meant that the candidate was initiated into basic membership; 1=10 meant that he had taken the first initiation of the tenth Sephira, Malkuth and the spiritual Element of Earth; 2=9 signified initiation into Yesod, the ninth Sephira and the realm of Air; 3=8 meant the initiation of Hod and the Element of Water; 4=7 meant initiation into Netzach and Fire.

These four ritual steps symbolized the introduction of the candidate into the Mysteries of matter. Theoretically, each new initiation meant control over one of the key aspects of the Personality.

5=6 was the initiation into the Inner Order, and the Mysteries of Tiphareth. This also heralded the true enlightenment of the seeker.

These initiatory rituals demonstrate the process by which the Higher Consciousness unfolds, and may be related to the very symbol of mankind, the Pentagram (Figure 7). The four lower arms are the balanced forces of the Elements. The topmost point is the Spirit functioning through the Elements.

It should not, of course, be supposed that an initiatory ritual always brings a miraculous change in the individual. The real changes are the result of a sacrament within, stimulated by the sacrament without. And it might be safe to assume that very few members of the Order of the Golden Dawn were really adepts in the true sense of the word.

Pentagram Golden Dawn
Figure 7. Attribution of Elements to the Pentagram
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Responses

  • REGAN
    What does Microprosopus represent?
    7 years ago

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