Western Tree Kether Sephirah

= Chokmah, Sephirah 2) = Binah, Sephirah 3) = Gedulah, Sephirah 4) = Geburah, Sephirah 5) = Tiphareth, Sephirah 6) = Netzach, Sephirah 7) = Hod, Sephirah 8) = Yesod, Sephirah 9) = Malkuth, Sephirah 10) = Aleph, 1>2) = Beth, 1>3) = Gimel, 1>6) = Daleth, 2>3) = Heh, 2>6) = Vav, 2>4) = Zayin, 3>6) = Cheth, 3>5) = Teth, 4>5) = Yod, 4>6) = Kaph, 4>7) = Lamed, 5>6) = Mem, 5>8) = Nun, 6>7) = Samekh, 6>9) = Ayin, 6>8) = Peh, 7>8) = Tzaddi, 7>9) = Qooph, 7>10) = Resh, 8>9) = Shin, 8>10) = Tav, 9>10)

From this perspective, there are only two points of complete agreement: Path #1 = Kether and Path #32 = Tav, 9>10. There are also four points of partial agreement. Three of these four are Path #25 = 6>9, Path #29 = 7>10, and Path #31 = 8>10, but these three points do not agree upon which Letter belongs to these connections between Sephirot.

The fourth point of partial agreement is the attribution of Daleth to Path #14, but here there is disagreement as to which two Sephirot Daleth connects (3>5 vs. 2>3).

The practical significance of these differences and their implication so far as kabbalistic understanding doesn't become truly apparent until we factor in the text of the "32 Paths" document itself. To illustrate briefly, here's the same list but with the addition of the "intelligences" or "consciousnesses" of each Path:

Hebrew Tree

Intelligence

(Western Tree)

Path #1 =

= Kether, Sephirah 1

Mystical

(= Kether, Sephirah 1)

Path #2 =

Heh, 1>2

Illuminating

(= Chokmah, Sephirah 2)

Path #3 =

Chokmah, Sephirah 2

Sanctifying

(= Binah, Sephirah 3)

Path #4 =

Beth, 1>6

Overflowing

(= Gedulah, Sephirah 4)

Path #5 =

Vav, 1>3

Root

(= Geburah, Sephirah 5)

Path #6 =

Zayin, 2>6

Transparent

(= Tiphareth, Sephirah 6)

Path #7 =

Binah, Sephirah 3

Hidden

(= Netzach, Sephirah 7)

Path #8 =

Aleph, 4>5

Perfect

(= Hod, Sephirah 8)

Path #9 =

Cheth, 3>6

Pure

(= Yesod, Sephirah 9)

Path #10

= Gedulah, Sephirah 4

Resplendent

(= Malkuth, Sephirah 10)

Path #11

= Teth, 4>6

Scintillating

(= Aleph, 1>2)

Path #12

= Gimel, 2>4

Transparent

(= Beth, 1>3)

Path #13

= Geburah, Sephirah 5

Unifying

(= Gimel, 1>6)

Path #14

= Daleth, 3>5

Luminous

(= Daleth, 2>3)

Path #15

= Tiphareth, Sephirah 6

Constituting

(= Heh, 2>6)

Path #16

= Mem, 7>8

Eternal

(= Vav, 2>4)

Path #17

= Yod, 5>6

Disposition

(= Zayin, 3>6)

Path #18

= Kaph, 4>7

Influence

(= Cheth, 3>5)

Path #19

= Netzach, Sephirah 7

Secret of all

(= Teth, 4>5)

Spiritual Activity

Path #20

= Lamed, 6>7

Will

(= Yod, 4>6)

Path #21

= Peh, 5>8

Fulfilled Desire

(= Kaph, 4>7)

Path #22

= Nun, 6>8

Faithful

(= Lamed, 5>6)

Path #23

= Hod, Sephirah 8

Stable

(= Mem, 5>8)

Path #24

= Shin, 2>3

Imaginative

(= Nun, 6>7)

Path #25

= Resh, 6>9

Trial

(= Samekh, 6>9)

Path #26

= Yesod, Sephirah 9

Renewing

(= Ayin, 6>8)

Path #27

= Samekh, 7>9

Exciting

(= Peh, 7>8)

Path #28

= Ayin, 8>9

Natural

(= Tzaddi, 7>9)

Path #29

= Tzaddi, 7>10

Corporealizing

(= Qooph, 7>10)

Path #30

= Malkuth, Sephirah 10

Universal

(= Resh, 8>9)

Path #31

= Qooph, 8>10

Perpetual

(= Shin, 8>10)

Path #32

= Tav, 9>10

Serving

(= Tav, 9>10)

In my experience, the differences between the Jewish and Western understandings of the Tree of Life are too vast to bridge except through the imagery of the Tarot major arcana. By using these images, along with their Western tradition of Hebrew Letter correspondences, and fitting them to the Hebrew Tree, a Western practitioner can come to a better understanding of the Hebrew Tree and by extension, the Jewish kabbalah.

To that end, I invite you to experiment with the following correspondences in your sphere- and pathworking. Below, you will find the text of the "32 Paths of Wisdom" document, juxtaposed with their Hebrew Tree correspondences and their Tarot Arcanum5 (where appropriate). I've also included Paul Case's "Pattern on the Trestleboard" statements for each Sephira; and for the planetary Sephirot, I've included the Temple images from my own "Eight Temples Meditation Project"6. Along side all of this, you will find my own personal commentary.

I've arranged the Paths in what I call an "initiatory sequence". Initiation is a process of the ascent, expansion and integration of consciousness. It begins at the basest personal level of consciousness (Malkuth) and spans the gamut to the Unity of All consciousness (Kether). The Tree of Life expresses this essential process and defines ten stages or levels of initiation, corresponding to the Sephirot. It also defines a sequential path of ascent that integrates all ten of these levels.

By applying the purely Western techniques of sphere- and pathworking to the Hebrew Tree, and using the "32 Paths of Wisdom" document combined with the Tarot major arcana as our illustrated tour guide, a cogent system of self-initiation emerges.

Sphereworking (i.e., experiencing the Sephirot) should precede pathworking. This bias is reflected in the sequence I present here. We begin with Malkuth, followed by Yesod - as sphereworkings. Only then do we pursue the first initiatory path, Tav 9>10 - as apath-working beginning in Yesod and ending in Malkuth.

In this form of initiatory working upon the Tree, pathworking is reserved for integration of the newly attained level of consciousness and not as a means of ascent proper. However, working the paths that depend from a newly attained sphere is part of the process that enables the initiate to ascend to the next higher level. In other words, the integration of the new level into the old level(s), through pathworking, is what transforms the initiate and empowers their next ascent.

Malkuth: Sephirah #10

#10: The Kingdom of spirit is embodied in my flesh.

Path #30 -- "The thirtieth path is called the universal consciousness because through it, masters of the heavens derive their judgments of the stars and constellations, and perfect their knowledge of the celestial cycles."

Above all else, the "32 Paths" document describes the work to be done in relation to each Path. Here we are told that the work of Malkuth is self-analysis which leads to self-knowledge.

The analogy used is that of an astrologer ("master of the heavens") who looks to the movements and positions of the planets ("stars") within the zodiac ("constellations") in order to comprehend the universal forces at play in any given moment. The work of self-analysis is much the same in that one examines the manifest personality and from that, derives certain truths about the universal forces that underlie the personality traits and the general structure of personality itself. In symbolic terms, the planets represent the basic components of the personality and the zodiacal signs represent the Elemental structure of personality. Thus this self-analysis is performed in the context of the four Elements and each aspect of the personality is assigned an Elemental correspondence.

This analysis of the inner self and of the external universe is the first step along the path of initiation. In essence, it is a process of judging cause by examining its effect -- of trying to understand what is reflected by gazing at a mirror instead of looking directly at the source. The rationale behind this tact is that each material manifestation is an expression of a Universal force. By observing the material manifestation one can, by extension, learn something about the Universal force that causes it. For example, an astrologer looks to the position of a planet within the zodiac and from that derives an indication of what subtle influences are affecting human affairs, but the astrologer is basing this judgment upon the characteristics of the manifestation or end result, not upon the direct perception of the Universal force itself. With this knowledge in hand however, the astrologer can predict behavior and can, to a certain extent, compensate for the subtle influence.

And so it is with the work of Malkuth. By analyzing the inner and outer manifestation, the initiate learns to recognize the subtle influences that affect them and comes to see that indeed, the kingdom of spirit is embodied in their flesh.

Yesod: Sephirah #9

#9: In thought and word and deed, I rest my life from day to day upon the sure Foundation of eternal being.

Path #26 -- "The twenty-sixth path is called the renewing consciousness because through it God, blessed be He, renews all things which are newly begun in the creation of the world."

Yesod is the Middle Pillar root of the astral personality. In human terms it is the (predominantly subconscious) psyche. The work of Yesod is the application of the Malkuth self-knowing toward self-transformation. This is the renewal of the "small self" or personality, where "every thought, word and deed" is dedicated to transforming the personality so that it truly reflects the "eternal being". In Yesod, the initiate stands as the source of reflection and consciously casts their image upon the mirror of manifest personality, constantly reshaping their projection until the reflection matches their inner light. This is expressed clearly in the corresponding Genesis passage:

Yesod: Sephirah #9

Genesis 1:26 -- "AndElohim said: 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have power over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.'"

"Man" in this case is the astral personal self, who exercises power over the Elements ("sea", "air", and "earth") and all their manifestations within the realm of the personality and life circumstance. The conscious exercising of this power-over the personality, causes a "renewal" within the initiate's psyche.

Path #32 -- "The thirty-second path is called the serving consciousness because it directs the motion of the seven planets, each in its own proper course."

Tav describes the task of Yesod -- namely, the conscious impressing upon Malkuth (our material life circumstance) of the renewed Yesodic personality. In the symbolism of the "32 Paths" this is described as the conscious directing of the "seven planets" (i.e., the aspects of the personality) in their ""proper" course. Their "proper" course is represented in the Tarot imagery as occurring within the context of the balanced four Elements (i.e., the cherubic signs of the zodiac).

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