QABALA AS A SPIRITUAL PATH
"Ever since the Lord ordained the Creation,
I have been pledged to return to my original home.
People know, from my quest for unity in God,
that I am as anxious as I am eager to merge with him.
I shall bear the blows of destiny as I pursue him,
while I am ferried across to him on the boat of his love.
No one ever found the Lord while living,
O Bahu, except those who found him by dying while living."
17th Century Sufi saint, Punjab, India
THE SYNERGETIC QABALA
The premise of Synergetic Qabala is based on the fact that manifesting form is essentially energetic. Form is not other than force, and force is often indistinguishable from form. Forces interacting in dynamic stabilization are essentially, therefore, synergetic. The right and left Pillars of the Tree of Life are in a state of dynamic tension, as well as other polarities which it embodies. While Synergetic Qabala is essentially a geometrical philosophy, it is not a sterile number mysticism, but a theosophical approach to the unfathomable mysteries of Qabala and its essentially mystical orientation.
The Tree of Life is a model of the universe that describes energy's behavior and also has the ability to shape our thinking. Synergetics describes the actual underlying geometry of subatomic structure. Here we employ nature's own coordinate system, the geometry nature uses for self-organization --the tetrahedron. There is a relationship between geometry and number which is intrinsic to the spheres and geometry of the Tree of Life. It defines the philosophical universe of Qabala. Explorations in this geometry are covered elsewhere in "The Synergetic Qabala."
The ancient system of the Qabala may best be described as a mystical theosophy, an effective guide for understanding ourselves and our relationship to the universe. It provides a cohesive worldview which is consistent with the findings of modern physics, psychology, and philosophical thought. It provides not only a philosophy, but a Way of life. It is a mystical discipline which requires an active spiritual practice for realization.
As in the case of physics, there are two main branches of Qabala. The first is speculative or Theoretical Qabala and the second is Practical Qabala which concerns the application of its principles through theurgic magic and/or mystical meditation. It is a complex system of symbols and principles for developing the inner potential of human nature, leading to the stage of conscious service to the divine powers at the source of all creation. Though often spelled many ways, we employ the simplest transliteration of QBL, as Qabala (ka-ba-la).
Though associated with the Hebrew, and later Hermetic philosophers, the roots of Qabala possibly originated in Egypt. The Western occult tradition attributes it to Hermes Trismegistus, or Thoth (Egyptian inventor of writing, astronomy, and mathematics). These teachings belong to ancient Egyptian mystery traditions that predate Plato and the Bible, with treatises on ancient cosmology and sacred psychology.
The Hermetic tradition enjoyed a revival when Marsilio Ficinio translated a bundle of ancient Egyptian manuscripts with the collective name of the Hermetica (1463). The Hermetica has been called the fountainhead of Western spirituality, the motherlode of all later esoteric and metaphysical systems. Here we find the suggestion that mankind is a hybrid of human and divine elements. Human nature is potential divinity, or "Godseed." Hermetics opened the way to independent spiritual seeking--spontaneous God contact--in the West. It suggests the possibility of transhumanization, and the divine mission of cocreation.
Egyptian religion is the prototype and source of mankind's interest in seeking immortality. It is the source of mystical teachings on reincarnation, magic, healing, the mysteries and the rudiments of sciences such as astronomy and chemistry. The other primary source of mythic material comes from Sumeria with its stories of God-men, the Great Flood, the creation of Adam, and the nature of deep time (Enuma Elish) and the Cosmos. They developed a rich culture, including the first recorded kingship, libraries, and systems of measurement, and sacred geometry. The Zodiac developed from Mesopotamian astronomy.
Early Jewish initiates believed Qabala's mysteries were first taught by God to a school of angels. According to legend, the angels in turn transmitted it to Adam after the Fall in an attempt to help humanity regain its balance. These mythic images suggest a Mesopotamian origin for these doctrines which is lost in the mists of prehistory. Remember, the Hebrew patriarch Abraham began his spiritual journey away from paganism toward monotheism in the Mesopotamian city of Ur, (in the heart of the ancient Sumeria, where recorded history, culture, and modern technology began).
We can use the Qabala today as a guide for our personal growth, both psychological and spiritual. Qabala helps us get in conscious contact with latent or hidden aspects of our deep mind, collective inheritance, and Source. The imagery and phenomenology of Qabala is well documented. The universe is an emanation or flowing forth of Godhead, the primal Source It is an expression of the dynamic fullness of divine Life.
This plenum or matrix is the source of divine aparks who plunge into the long process of involution or descent through the planes into manifestion. They eventually undergo an evolution in which new and infintely differentiated aspects of the original, unmanifest potentiality of the Godhead comes to expression. Ascent up the central column of the Tree of Life is the mystic's path to spiritual awakening and absorption. The Source can be experienced directly and discovered within us. This universal paradigm correlates with all mystical traditions. It is the very ground of our self-awareness.
The qabalistic Universe is a spatially conceived cosmos divided into higher and lower worlds or heavenly spheres of influence. Qabala is about the relationship of the One to the Many, and the Many to the One; all are conceived as active aspects of Living Deity and their dynamic interrelations. It describes a vast panoply of involution and evolution. It is an immense network of embedded symbolism and arcane lore, which begins with a cosmology, (a scenario about how the universe and humanity came into being; the patterns of nature in relation to the moral and psychological aspects of human behavior).
The qabalistic Genesis begins with the emanation of Ain Soph, "supreme wisdom," the Godhead as pure light-filled creative intelligence, source of all manifestation. The Limitless Light flows out into the 10 Spheres of the Tree of Life down through the Four Worlds of Creation: Archetypal (divine), Causal (mental), Astral (emotional), and Physical. Emanation means that God sent forth a portion of his own essence into the manifestation, rather than creating a separate reality. This cosmic pattern or design reflects the divine order, the pervasive design of the world.
The succession of numbers 1 through 10 symbolizes and is, in fact, identical with the emanation of the manifest Universe. The 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet contain and create the secret structure of all things. The cosmic process is an unfolding of the mystical name of God. Each letter corresponds with a path on the Tree of Life, and functions as a mystical "gateway" to its experience.
Though originally an oral tradition, written philosophical doctrines can be traced to the 3rd through 13th centuries. The foundational text of written Qabala, the Sephir Yetzirah, 'The Book of Formation' is based on alphanumeric mysticism. It describes how God created the manifest universe by means of letter/numbers which are the foundation of all things. The letters are part of 'one body,' the alphabet which is an extention of God's own being.
All created things, made by means of the letters, are also parts of the one body which is God. Contemplation of and meditation on these Hebrew letter/numbers is fundamental to accessing discrete mystical states. Mystical understanding of this divine Unity is the first concern of qabalism. This is part of the origin of the power of the Word or Logos in the crossroads cultures of the Middle East. In ancient Egypt the specific organ of creation was Ptah's mouth, "which named all things."
Like the descending emanations from the divine source, the soul leaves its home in Godhead and descends into physical form, where its redemption comes through seeking that from which it originated. Thus, Qabala is a Path of Return to the pristine state, but with an experiential legacy.
This legacy comes from "dying while living," a metaphor for the daily "death" to the outer world in mystical meditation. Ultimately Qabala is a solitary pursuit, but one best conducted with an experienced guide. Remember, no teacher can take you any further than they have been, and there are real psychological and spiritual dangers in the realm of the collective unconscious.
Not everyone is naturally equipped to discriminate subtle tricks of the mind (mental imbalance, hallucinations, delusions, ego inflations, flights of fancy) from authentic spiritual insight. True mystical experience, like scientifically conducted experiments, is repeatable and reproducable. It is approximately the same for all practitioners, everywhere, in all times.
The same is not true for what psychologists call "magical thinking," which is a pre-rational, rather than transrational state, characterized by a plethora of superstitions and often paranoid ideations. Much of so-called New Age thought is characterized by these romanticized superstitions and faulty conclusions based on sporadic results from unsystematic, idiosyncratic rites and practices.
We may be well-intentioned when we embark on self-directed studies, but this method can take you no further than the Self, where many magicians make the mistake of setting themselves up as an ersatz God and worshipping their own willfullness. Is not setting oneself up as one's own God the ultimate folly, and the mistake which turns the adept into a Black Magician, deifying his own personality?
We must abandon our narcissism to take up the quest for archetypal origin. It involves personal sacrifice and ordeals. Four factors show the difference between someone who has creative fantasies and someone who is only spinning neurotic nonsense: originality, consistency, intensity, and subtlety.
Though the roots of magic and schizophrenic fantasy spring fom the same source, they are not synonymous. Magic is a counterphobic attitude, the transition from passivity to activity. In fantasy, realistic action does not follow; it is a substitute for healthy, pro-active behavior. The ego is weak or totally absent, engaging in fruitless attempts at restitution.
True aspirants show continuity of devotion to God, not self-aggradizment. One learns how to navigate in the imaginal realm--an as if reality--without taking it literally. We learn to become absorbed in the Divine without mistaking our spiritual awakening for de facto personal deification. The attitude is one of "Not my will but Thine be done." It is the spirit of submission and selfless service to the Divine Will.
Reports of angels and demons are commonplace in Qabalistic literature. Once again, this speaks of a Mesopotamian origin or subsequent influence. The crossroads cultures of the Mediterranean and Middle East influenced one another's philosophies.
In late antiquity there was a mingling of Gnostic, Neoplatonic, the ancient Hebrew Merkabah tradition, and magical speculation with Babylonian notions of angelic, demonic, and divine powers. This influenced the development of mystical lore. This co-mingling (syncretism) had long been established by the time the central text of Qabalism, the Zohar was written in 13th century Spain.
In terms of Jungian psychology, the angels seem to correspond with inner guides or wisdom figures, while the demons are analogous to psychological complexes. Qabalistic speculation asserts that angelic guardians and demons can block one's progress to ascent. In many ways these "entities from other dimensions" represent different aspects of the human psyche--forms of our higher and lower selves.
Psychologically, we know that imbalance and neurosis are blocks to our growth, self-defeating behaviors. Angels can be seen as transpersonal resources, while demons manifest within us as autonomous subpersonalities with their own agenda, not necessarily in synch with our personalities goals.
Somewhere in between common angels and demons comes the notion of the daemon, genius, or Holy Guardian Angel--a personal inner guide which appears as synchronicities, inspiration, creativity, intuitive knowing, or directly as a personified figure for dialogical exchange. Angels are messengers which mediate between the divine and the human.
The angel instructs and inspires, draws forth and nurtures our talents. We connect with our personal essence and self-expression.It can be a guardian of the threshold of the mysteries, harsh taskmaster or the source of seemingly infinite creative expression. But, once summoned, it will not be ignored without peril. Attainment of "Knowledge and Conversation" with this singular Angel is the primary operation of elementary theurgic magick, and is central to further progress and transcendence.
The purpose of the Qabala (QBL) is to help us experience the Mysteries directly through personal encounter, both inwardly and outwardly. It is no mere study, but an applied philosophy. The transformative lessons of the Qabala come through life experiences and consciousness journeys. It is visceral and emotional, as well as mental. It is a perspective on life that is actively immersed in the mythic as well as personal worlds. The adept has a foot in, or walks between both worlds.
The doctrine of Qabala is based on the premise that God created mankind in his [their] own image. The Creation is attributed to the Elohim, male/female deities acting as agents of the supreme God. There is a hierarchy of hyperdimensional entities which inhabit the various subtle planes of the universe. Each of the classes of angels has a specific relationship and duties toward mankind. They are all in service to the self-revealing dynamic God of religious experience. An existing God means a manifest, revealed and related God.
The guiding axiom of the Creation is "As Above, So Below." This Hermetic axiom means that there is an archetypal identity between divinity and mankind, mankind and the Universe. This intimates that mankind can achieve a "cosmic consciousness," since "we are that." We can "receive" this knowledge or revealed Truth directly from the Source, through QBL which literally means "to receive."
There are six major principles of the Qabala:
* The cosmos is a Unity, with all aspects in interrelation. It is a wholistic worldview.
* The forces of creation represent an eternal interplay between an active force and a passive one; polarity (positive and negative charge, male/female, yin/yang, holding the tension of the opposites).
* The human individual is a microcosm of the universe; we come to know the universe through ourselves, and ourselves through cosmic principles.
* In daily life we are attuned to only one state of consciousness among many. This is the culturally programmed trance state known as ordinary consciousness, or consensus reality.
* We can access multiple states of consciousness, including universal or cosmic consciousness through systematic application of concentration and meditation, by the grace of God. Careful preparation is necessary.
* To achieve such transcendent states of consciousness various specific practices and techniques are utilized.
The main concern of the practicing Qabalist lies in the applications of its teachings to his own life. In other words, we are interested in psychological and spiritual growth with a greater understanding of Universal principles. In Qabala we find many mysteries and techniques for enlightenment. Like any system of theosophy, the Qabala's purpose is to account for humanity's relation to the Divine, and to create a personal, living relationship with that divinity.
The main tools (or methods) applied by the Qabalist include concentration, visualization, ritual, meditation, and contemplation of the Tree of Life. The circuit of this "Tree" is the most important symbol in the Qabala, and posits a series of "heavens" (or discrete yet synergetic states of consciousness) which can be accessed by the aspirant.
This Tree describes the descent of creative energy into manifestation, (in a primordial move God begins to turn outwards, to unfold, to exist), and the Path of Return to divine existence. The downward arc of phenomenal creation is answered by an ascending arc of evolving consciousness. The Tree of Life represents the soul of mankind and the essence of the Universe. It is the guiding model for the homeward-bound soul; a consciousness map for the inner journey back to the Limitless Light.
This glyph, which consists of 10 Spheres and 22 Paths, has long been associated with the Way of Initiation. Qabala is a mystery school whose secrets are only transmitted orally and experientially. Because these secrets require maturity, deep commitment and personal experience, and God's grace, they are always "safe" from the profane. The diletante or dabbler will never "get it." It requires "being there."
The Tree is a compendium of symbolism describing all ways of being and becoming; of forms, images, and ideas. It is a system of correspondences, associating diverse symbolism such as inner experiences, planetary attributions, the Tarot, gods and goddesses, plants, jewels, animals, elements, alchemical operations, etc.
Pathworking is a technical term from the Western mystery tradition. It is a method of using imaginal processes to get actual experience. It is a course of meditations which leads to the awakening of inner potentials or psychic effects, and produces outer effects in the form of synchronistic events, challenges, or growth. It is a means of conscious self-discovery and self-actualization, unfolding our innate essence, "true self".
In meditation the Qabalist concentrates on the Tree of Life and observes certain relationships. When we concentrate on one of the Tree's symbols, our mind contacts a cosmic force and completes a transformative circuit with Universal Mind. A new aspect of the collective unconscious is made available to our conscious minds. The transpersonal becomes personal and finite as it manifests within us. The practice of this meditation eventually leads the student up the paths toward spiritual fulfillment and union with the Limitless Light.
The application of qabalistic principles, practical Qabala, has always been called magic. It supercedes the more primal, shamanic type of magic with theurgy. Its aim is religious or spiritual, rather than personalistic ends, such as healing. It changes consciousness progressively, not regressively. It leads to objective self-knowledge. There is no loss of consciousness to lower trance states, but an enhancement.
Through syncretism (the cross-cultural melding of religious ideas), Qabala became more than a system of Jewish mysticism. It is the basis of the Western Occult Tradition and Hermetic Philosophy. Practical Qabalists use the teachings to transform their lives, using many of the techniques adopted by modern psychology. In fact, many of the ancient mystic arts were the traditional equivalents of contemporary science.
If you embark on a self-directed program of growth, how do you know how to program your transformations? How will you achieve a balanced or equilibrated growth pattern, making sure your rational and emotional selves mature at a harmonious rate? Who or what will be your guide? How will you avoid overemphasizing your strong points, and how can you identify your psychological blind spots, or guide yourself through your own fears?
Both Jungian psychology and the qabalistic teachings include a depth analysis of the personality, and its subsequent reintegration on a higher level of organization. It means the deconstruction of the rigid old ego, its liquification, and subsequent spiritual rebirth. This requires maturity, and both disciplines recommend waiting until after age 40 to begin in earnest. Before this age outer activities such as career and family often take rightful precedence. But many must begin sooner because they are called to the Path early. Both systems employ the study of symbolism and archetypes, creative visualizations, guided imagery, journal work, and meditation. Both seek the actualization of an integrated personality, known as self-realization.
However, Qabala transcends the realm of psychology and the mind; it seeks to use the trained psyche or soul as a vehicle for God-realization. Hence, its emphasis on purification and discipline of the mind and body in service to the soul. This is the task of mystical meditation, whose goal is beyond the realm of the mind. The transpersonal goal is valued more highly than the personal sacrifice which is a condition of success in this endeavor. Yet Qabala is a "householder's yoga" which need not take us away from worldly life and our duties.
We can integrate both ancient qabalistic and modern psychological teachings into our daily lives. Qabala adapts to the continuing changes of contemporary society since it not a dogmatic, historic curiosity whose mysteries are frozen in antiquity. Rather, it is a living science of the soul, an evolving system of spiritual development accessible to anyone with a desire for higher knowledge and depth experience.
The Qabala is a blueprint of a holistic lifestyle. It is a way to tie your various studies together, relating them to each other, and enabling you to understand each more completely. It is also a useful guide and objective measure of your personal growth.
Dion Fortune defines Qabala as "an attempt to reduce to diagrammatic form every force and factor in the manifested universe and the soul of man; to correlate them to one another and reveal them spread out as a map so the relative positions between them can be seen and the relations between them traced. . .a compendium of science, psychology, philosophy and theology." We might add that the Qabala encodes a maximum amount of information in a minimum number of graphic elements, i.e. spheres, paths, number/letters, and colors. It is a universal code.
Israel Regardie calls the Qabala, "a trustworthy guide leading to a comprehension of both the Universe and one's own Self." From Gareth Knight we hear, "A practical method for the interrelations of various systems of symbols." For example, if you know one symbol system, say astrology, you can readily translate it over into another, such as gods and goddesses, by means of the Tree of Life.
Qabala, as a system of attaining direct religious experience, has been called a step-ladder of spiritual growth, the Ladder of Lights. It may also be used as a study of comparative religions, with their goals mapped at the various stations. W.E. Butler termed it "a method of using the mind in a practical and constantly widening consideration of the Universal soul of man." The methods of QBL require that the mind be tamed and trained and its lower desires subjugated to the higher Will.
One of my favorite (slightly outdated) metaphors likens the Qabala to a filing cabinet which contains the Universe. It functions as a filing cabinet for mental concepts, giving a place for everything within the 32 files of the Tree. This data base can be used as a retrieval system, not only to contact the information you've stored there, but also that which is warehoused there from the collective unconscious. Through it, we connect with a vast spiritual heritage, that of previous practitioners of QBL. It brings us in touch with experiences similar to those who have gone before us on this Way.
Regardie states that, "the art of using our filing cabinet arrangement brings home to us the common nature (or essence) of certain things, the essential difference between others, and the inevitable connection of all things. Moreover, and this is extremely important, by the acquisition of an understanding of any one system of mystical philosophy or religion, one automatically acquires, when relating that comprehension to the Tree of Life, an understanding of every system. So that ultimately, by a species of association of impersonal and abstract idead, one gradually equilibrates the whole of one's own mental structure and obtains a simple view of the incalculably vast complexity of the universe."
From the Qabalist's perspective, equilibrium is the basis of the work. Qabala functions as an ancient general systems, theory, allowing us to relate that which is apparently separate. Serious students make a careful study of the attributes of the Tree and commit them to memory. They function automatically as mnemonic devices to stimulate synergetic perception of reality.
Jung alleged that there are gods within each illness or dis-ease we experience. Each archetype or godform has its own corresponding pathologies. When we realize that our identities are composed of various complexes (or subpersonalities) and realize that there are different mental and spiritual spaces, we are already engaged in some form of Qabala. The Tree of Life is a map to these consciousness states, and their balancing forces.
In depth psychology we find modern terms for these states of consciousness. In ancient texts we find the names for these spaces and techniques to contact or enter them. The map of inner consciousness unites the soul with the Universe. We move through this map, up the Ladder of Lights by means of the process of progressive identification with higher states, and disidentification with lower ones. We don't lose the lower levels, but bring them into a symphonic relationship with the higher ones. This is the spiritual approach to healing dis-ease.
The Tree of Life, as a graphic representation of the creation, leads to the communion of the mundane, conscious self with both the subconscious and superconscious Self. The subconscious includes the body with its virtual, subatomic (quantum), atomic, molecular, and genetic organization, autonomic functions, and the personal unconscious of forgotten or repressed desires and memories--the psychophysical. The superconcious is the spiritual self or the god-within.
As with all good road maps, the Tree of Life helps guide you to your destination, but the map is not the territory. In the case of this map, problem solving, obtaining goals, and spiritual experience are the ultimate destinations. Goal setting is a positive thing; without goals we flounder. This is the basis of becoming a "seeker," and then an initiate. Initiation is only the beginning of the process. The imparted teaching must be applied. The ego can initially do those things which lead to its own transcendence, but in the higher stages progress comes through God's Grace.
The Tree has various directional coordinates connecting the spheres, called "paths." The paths are transitional stages while the spheres themselves may be considered discrete states of consciousness or archetypal modes of Being, rather than Becoming. Each of the 22 paths has a series of exercises that strengthen, prepare, and test the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. A student of the Qabala does "pathworking" for spiritual growth.
There are two major divisions to the study of the Tree of Life. The first way to approach it is philosophical. The doctrine of the Qabala includes an elaborate conception of the birth of the universe, or a cosmology. It outlines detailed hierarchies of entities controlling the various inner realms which lie between the mundane sphere of the earth and the abode of God, as unmanifest Reality. This "blueprint of the Universe" may be studied, and contemplated or meditated upon. Recent investigations reveal that the pattern of the Tree is implicit in the formation of all atomic elements (see The Diamond Body). It is the geometrical basis of natural philosophy.
Once we are familiar with the basic concepts we have the option of approaching the Tree from a practical, experiential perspective. Here the information we learned through study is put into applied practice. This application has been called "magic" from the earliest times, from the same root as Magi, the Mesopotamian wise men, priests and atronomers. Astrology and magic were invented and developed in ancient Mesopotamia.
In contemporary mystical terms, it primarily indicates the building up of multi-sensory mental images or impressions. Sometimes we must resort to sensory stimulation to engrain or reinforce these symbolic images. This is one value of ceremony or ritual: to set up a system for evoking psychosensory subliminal responses which can transform the personality.
The most basic use of the Qabala in our daily living is as a touchstone for solving our personal problems and gaining a transpersonal perspective which transcends our mundane life. Do your actions and choices create more karma? Do they take you closer or further away from your spiritual objectives? The effect of discrimination and better choices is therapeutic for the personality and healing for the soul. It promotes healthy self-esteem and personal integrity. It increases compassion, wisdom, and understanding.
When the fragmentation in our personality begins to heal, we experience rebirth as a more integrated personality. Once we have addressed our major psychological conflicts, the mind becomes calm enough to begin meditation. Those who have mastered this technique are enlightened sages, called masters. They describe the mind as a veil convering and encumbering the soul.
This mind is seen as tied in a knot with the soul. Therefore, whatever the mind does, the soul is dragged along. If the mind is taken outside, willy-nilly by the senses, soul is scattered in phenomena, maya, or illusion. If the attention goes within--to the Eye Center in meditation--soul can collect and ascend to higher regions. The mind is necessary for the soul to express itself on material planes just as a diving suit is necessary for any prolonged stay underwater.
The goal of many meditation schools is Universal Mind, or Brahm. But these schools may not speak of soul, per se, although they do address its phenomena. The Tree of Life shows the dominion of mind terminating at The Abyss. The upper one-third of the Tree--the Supernal Triad--supercedes Universal Mind. It exists in an altogeher different dimension, an archetypal dimension beyond even subtle manifestation. Masters speak of entering this realm in their meditations, once the soul is freed from the mind. But your model or worldview must include the possibility of Reality beyond Universal Mind, or you won't even seek it.
Qabala describes four discrete aspects of the soul:
1) GUPH, the material or physical body;
2) NEPHESH, the desire body, instinctual nature, psychosexual self;
3) RUACH, the mental body of personality including memory, will, imagination, and reason;
4) NESCHAMAH, the soul unfettered by its mingling with the mind. A pure spark of divinity which has the capacity to merge back into Godhead.
Neschamah manifests in the life of the self-realized individual. In fact, the realization is that one is indeed this being of pure light, "I AM THAT."
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THE TREE OF LIFE & DEPTH PSYCHOLOGYWe can use the Tree as a technology for connecting with Higher Power, however, we comprehend that notion or force. Using the modern language of psychology (language of the soul) as a level of communication, we can elucidate each sphere in terms of Jungian archetypes, and the various myths associated with that sphere. Briefly, we can make the following associations:
#10 MALKUTH: The Seeker. Can be associated with the initation of the process of individuation or coming-to-wholeness. It is not the process itself, but the starting point. This sphere is also associated with the central nervous system and brain as the physical plane seat of consciousness. It is an aspect of personal consciousness as well as the personal unconscious. Jung speaks of psychosomatic disorders, ideomotor responses, and the archetype of the Persona or social mask; the archetype of the Shadow is our potential both for evil and unlived good; the archetype of the Double is our immortal counterpart. Mythic correspondences of the earthy sphere include Demeter/Persephone, earth mother and maiden bride; Gaia, primal matter; Pan, the nature god; and Hestia, goddess of the hearth, the center. Simple counseling and supportive therapy are appropriate at this phase. It means the end of denial and acknowledgement of the problem.
#9 YESOD: The Dreamer. Corresponds with the moon and 'lunar' consciousness. Also known as the Astral Plane, the realm of waking and sleeping dreams, hypnosis, and twilight imagery. The level of metaphorical perception as contrasted with literal interpretation or "acting out" of Malkuth. Psychosexual, linked to the ego, or emotional concept of self-identity as personal and unique. Lunar archetypes include the Great Mother, White Goddess, and Virgin Goddesses. Jungian archetype is the Syzygy, or anima/animus (contrasexual aspects of self) as it relates to our love interests.
Goddesses include Isis, Artemis, Athena, and Psyche; they relate either directly to the moon or the woman's mysteries of cyclic death and rebirth, or transformation of consciousness in the crucible of the emotions. This is the level of the subconscious mind and instinctual nature; passions (gland central station). Dreamwork is appropriate therapy for this sphere; psychologies which address this level include psychoanalysis, psychodrama, transactional analysis, reality therapy, ego psychology, and dreamhealing.
#8 HOD: The Thinker. Cultivation of this sphere brings about a rational approach to the world. Mental concepts. We learn to approach our problems in a rational manner, and so make effective decisions based on a true understanding of the issues involved, critical thinking. Corresponds with Jung's synchronicity concept of acausal yet meaningful coincidence. Analogous to Mercury, plane of intellect.
Archetypes include Hermes, the alchemical Mercurius, the Trickster, and 'spirit,' as well as certain aspects of Eros as son/lover. Also the Puer Aeternus ("eternal youth"); those who remain too long in adolescent psychology; adult child syndrome; associated with strong unconscious attachment to the Mother (actual or symbolic), much like Eros held for his mother, Aphrodite.
Positive traits are spontaneity and openness to change. Hermes is a god of prudence, cunning, shrewdness and sagacity; invented alphabet, mathematics, astronomy, weights and measure. A study of the psychological types of personality is effective for a rational approach to the diversity of the human race. Hermeneutics and analytical psychologies correspond.
#7 NETZACH: The Lover. A higher aspect of the emotions which includes aesthetics and the establishment of a personal set of values and ideals based on your own personal experience and inner meaning. Must be balanced with the previous sphere for perfect equilibrium and further access. The realm of divination and oracles; the reflective mirror of the creative imagination. Associated with the planet and goddess Aphrodite.
The archetype of the puella or "eternal girl" is a negative or faulty relationship to the father-world. Cinderella complex. A depth understanding of the feeling function as described in Jungian psychology is useful here to move from an overly dependent (codependent) attitude. Love and victory are its qualities. Mythemes relating to this level include those of Aphrodite, Circe; Orpheus; Tristan and Iseult; Guinevere and Lancelot; Heloise and Abelard.
Therapies for the HOD/NETZACH level connect us with our feelings as well as thoughts and process, release, or transform. This is the level of inner child world which comes prior to spiritual rebirth; known as "original pain" work. Polarity Therapy, Bioenergetics, Rogerian Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Existential Analysis, Logotherapy and Humanistic Psychology.
#6 TIPHARETH: The Initiate. The central sphere of the Tree allows a harmonizing of the reasoning faculty with the feelings. It permits a rational evaluation of the worth of relationships and situations, not the emotions which are due to the activation of a complex. The abstract level of the higher mind can be developed through symbolism based on the power of the imaginative function.
This is the sphere of the superconscious, and it forms the link between the spiritual nature of man and his lower self. It is the principle of integration. It is the goal of the Invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel in Magick; the Jungian Self. Known as Beauty, this is the sphere of self-realization. It comes spontaneously and uncontrollably in its emergent stages, then stabilizes over time, punctuated by peak experiences (as defined by Maslow).
This is the level of Transpersonal Psychology. There is a shift from therapy toward spiritual discipline--notably meditation. The beginning phases are marked by alpha bliss and inspiration. Its spiritual experience is the sense of rebirth. Its psychological models include "self-actualization" and the concept of high well-being. Among its archetypal expressions we find hero/heroine; the divine or magickal child; the dynamics of the puer/senex (or puells/wise old woman) whose positive manifestations appear in the well-balanced personality; and the mana personality or wounded healer.
Important solar myths include those of Ra, Osiris, Apollo, Mithras, Christ, Attis and Dionysus. Other myths associated here are the divine marriage of Eros (Hod) and Psyche (younger Aphrodite, Netzach), and the story of Ulysses (Odysseus) with its quest to return to his original home (the theme of wounding, scaring, and healing).
This sphere forms the heart of the Collective Unconscious or transpersonal bands of the psyche. The therapies which address this depth level include Jung's Analytical Psychology, Personal Mythology, Psychosynthesis, and the works of Abraham Maslow and Progoff's Process Meditation. To integrate this level is to transcend the realm of traditional psychology and enter that of esoteric religion or mysticism.
In Tiphareth, you contact the archetype of the Self, or Holy Guardian Angel through an I-Thou relationship--a personalized dialogical relationship. It is an inner guiding principle. We are still within the realm of the divine Imagination, not the Clear Light. It is experienced as a transpersonal power which transcends the ego, expanding your sense of "self" beyond that of mere ego personality. This is the level of knowing the nature of your own awareness. The transcendent function is a reconciling "third" which emerges from the unconscious after the conflicting opposites have been consciously differentiated and the tension between them held.
The Self is our inherent guiding principle, if we but listen to it. It is the central archetype of the psyche. The Self is the integrative and transformative center within the psyche from which dreams, visions, and other inspirations originate. It is characterized by the union of opposites such as light and dark, male and female, good and bad. Symbols of the Self express the psychological process of coming to wholeness, and it is the essence of most spiritual experience. The Self represents the fullest extension and potential of an individual, and provides transcendent experiences which come from beyond one's own personal powers by divine grace.
Symbols of the Self include the God-man, or "son of God," the Royal Marriage or divine union; the Philosopher's Stone of alchemy, the Divine Child, the snake eating its tail, the butterfly, the ring, and the tapestry. The self also manifests as synchronicity, or meaningful coincidence, sexual and spiritual ecstasy and absolute clarity. Other symbols include the mandala or magic circle, the temple, treasure, book, gift, bridge, star, seeds, eggs, rainbow, lit candle, and weddings.
The glyph of the Tree of Life gives a firm basis for a study of the nature of man. It is a very ancient mystical symbol which represents the ten Archetypal Ideas or Energies that are the manifestation of the Unknowable Mysteries. By developing in ourselves the psychological counterparts of these energies, we can become re-integrated with our Real Self, and know our true destiny.
Each sphere has ascribed to it a different aspect of the Self which is most closely related to the functioning of the energy in that sphere. They are closely linked and this means that a development of one characteristic will produce an effect in the other. The overall emphasis is that of balance. By identifying the different aspects of our psychological nature in this way, it is also possible to see how existing forms of psychotherapy and other growth experiences can be aligned to various paths on the Tree, according to the functions they utilize, and the spheres which are being developed.
Within each of us are the essentials for the maximization of our psychological and spiritual potential. Yet even those of us who recognize the potentials within ourselves and aspire to realize them, still need an effective means of transformation. One requirement is a form of training which enables the aspirant to recognize, select and direct the will effectively to life's underlying archetypal realities.
To be able to identify these underlying archetypes, in action, we must have a means for classifying them, and dis-identifying from them. We cannot identify an archetype when we are in unconscious identification with it. If we can detach from it--disidentify--we can identify it as a sub- or superpersonality, rather than our personal self. This is the way to combat archetypal invasion.
The archetypes we are concerned with in Qabala are by no means all the possible archetypes which may subsist either in the collective unconscious or Universal Mind. But they are the essential seven which pertain to magical or mystical evolution, indeed all that pertains to human life. Adding to these another three, we have all that pertains to the universe both outer and inner, both cosmic and microcosmic, as seen by humankind. Speaking both physically and metaphysically, we can perceive only those phenomena which we have the faculties to perceive.
These ten archetypal sources of power correspond to the 10 spheres of the Tree. Since we cannot apprehend them directly, happily there is another way of proceeding. This is the Way which magical and mystical practices have ever followed.
Each of the spheres has its counterpart within each one of us; and that counterpart is also a focal point for the power of the sphere in question. We can, therefore, work with these counterparts within ourselves--and for the greatest effectiveness this working involves the body as well as psyche--to gain a living relationship with the powers of these archetypes.
The main qabalistic exercise for awakening and balancing the powers of the Spheres is known as the Middle Pillar Exercise. It is a means of imaginally "bringing in light." It harmonizes our being on the four levels: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. The exercise is first enacted with the body, like a ritual, to engrain it firmly in visceral and kinesthetic consciusness. Later, you need only visualize your astral body going through the motions, since it will be "second nature."
This exercise is totally safe from the psychological perspective, since it aims toward balanced growth. To work thus, by image and enactment, by calling forth within the self the effect which is to be produced in the outer world--this, from the earliest times has been the method of priest and magician, and most recently experiential psychologies.
The Middle Pillar Exercise associates the spheres of the Tree with the human body. Kether is visualized as radiant white light above the head. Chokmah is the Third Eye; Binah is at the throat; Tiphareth glows brilliant yellow like the sun in the heart; Chesed and Geburah are left and right shoulders, respectively; Yesod is a violet sphere at the genitals; and Malkuth centers where the feet meet the earth.
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THE COSMIC TREEBy animating the Tree within our psychphysical structure we identify with the Anthropos, the primordial cosmic Being. It unites our finite nature with the Universal consciousness. We learn firsthand that we are not separate from that, but one with it in our deepest essence.
In the diagram of the Tree of Life, the highest sphere Kether is the primal and unconditioned source of all existence. It precipitates from the three "negative veils of existence." In physics, this is virtual or scalar energy, the stress enegy of the vacuum potential.
Kether is the initial point of positive spiritual energy in our universe, the First Cause, in whatever manner one conceives it (a sort of White Whole). It is also, to the individual person, that particular Divine Flame which is at once the source and center of one's being.
Next, and proceeding from this primal Cause, come the two great spiritual polarities disignated respectively as the Supernal Father (Yang)--creative force in action--and the Supernal Mother (Yin)--formative force in action, giving viability to, but also necessarily in some manner constricting, the energies of the Father.
To the depths of the psyche, these Supernal Parents are represented by the high archetypes of Animus and Anima, in their most exalted aspects. Lesser images of them are made manifest to the less profound levels of the personality. They may be clothed in the cultural bias of a wise old man or psychic wise woman, or with an individual bias may appear as the object of your affection in the archetype is contaminated with personal projections that more appropriately correspond with Yesod.
These top three Spheres are vital to undestanding and using the Tree as a whole, although we do no magical work directly with them. They lie beyond the reach of the mind and its power to actualize our potential. The Third Sphere, that of the Supernal Mother, has however another and more accessible identity as the sphere of Saturn, the highest of the traditional planetary spheres. The power of the Mother, who is both bright and dark (as the Qabalists knew long before Freud discovered her ambivalence), is enthroned as it were behind the figure of Saturn who is ruler of primeval opulence and fecundity and of the barren rocks.
Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Mercury, Venus, and Luna: these, the seven traditional luminaries of astrology are represented by the third through ninth spheres. Their qabalistic characters are not entirely identical with their astrological influences, although Qabalistic and astrological understanding usefully suppliment one another; but the difference need not detain us here. The three outer planets are considered higher octaves of these potencies (Uranus=Mercury; Neptune=Luna; Pluto=Mars). The tenth and lowest sphere represents this planer Earth, or microcosmically the phyical body. In either case it is seen as the recipient of the influences of all the other spheres. The receptive "Bride of the Universe."
If you know something of the quality of the planets in astrology, you already have a foothold in the Qabalistic system. Beginning with the 10th or bottom sphere, which corresponds with the qualities of Earth, the other correspond as follows: Yesod=#9 the Moon; Hod=#8 Mercury; Netzach=#7 Venus; Tiphareth=#6 the Sun; Geburah=#5 Mars; Chesed=#4 Jupiter; Binah=#3 Saturn; Chokmah=#2 Uraus; Kether=#1 spiritual aspects of Neptune (Alternatively, Chokmah is the Wheel of the Zodiac; Kether, the First Swirlings).
The humanistic or psychological meaning of these associations is as follows:
* Yesod/Luna: Bio-psychic or psychosexual functions and feeling instinct responses. Survival Instincts. Adaptation to life experiences and the provision of the self with nourishment, protection and assistance. Moon symbolizes cyclic time, and death-rebirth energy. Also, action taken to bring about actualization of solar purpose through establishment of relationships and maintenance of self as an individual. Lunar principle enables one to adapt, develop and mature within the area defined by Saturn. Lunation cycle.
* Hod/Mercury: The principles of rationality, interchange, association, relatedness, communication, translation, interpretation. Adoption of techniques and the use of knowledge and skill to function in an effective manner. The intellect, reason and tonal quality of the person. Represents fluidic mind-thinking, logical capacity as well as magical or nervous force, i.e. prana, chi.
* Netzach/Venus: Establishment of values and ideals through inner meaing. All attempts to reach the center an partake in communion with one's self and others. Aesthetics and the establishment of a pattern of appreciation and set of values and ideals. Expression of internal experiences.
* Tiphareth/Sun: Principle of Beauty, harmonization, equilibration, integration. Center and power of Self. The person's purpose and direction in life. Principle of self-actualization and centering, one's True Nature. The person's total self is sustained through the vital force of spiritual consciousness.
* Geburah/Mars: A manifestation of initative, assertion, aggression, activity or will. The centifugal force active within experience. All forms of outwardly directed activity. How you begin and maintain things. Power or Might. Force that demolishes all forms and ideas when their term of usefulness and healthy life is done. Symbolizes not so much a fixed state of things, as an act, a further passage and transition of potentiality into actuality. The warrior-consciousness.
* Chesed/Jupiter: The principle of compassion, mercy, preservation, increase, compensation, expansion and assimilation. The process of individual assimilation of the social consciousness. Realm of ethics and morals. The urge to be a self-sustaining entity consciously participating within the social realm. The establishment of a larger frame of reference and the power to grow through cooperation with experience. Dharma or the individual power of right action. Philosopher/king; Renaissance person.
* Binah/Saturn: The True Self, or Anima; liberated soul cleansed of all traces of the mind. The principle forrm as definition for the purpose of individuation through evolution. Principle of Understanding; Shakti or Shekinah, Maya, Isis; the substantive vehicle of every possible phenomena, physical or mental, just as Chokmah is the essence of consciousness.
* Chokmah/Uranus: The True Will, spiritual energy or libido, creative genius, essence of consciousness. Transformation of the power of transformation and the urge to go beyond the area defined by Saturn. Wisdom. The vital energizing element of existence--pure Spirit or Purusha; the basic reality underlying all manifestations of consciousness. The Word or Logos.
* Kether/Neptune: Liberation; universalization; release of self. Master soul. Highest inspiration. Destruction and dissolution of antiquated foms. Source or root of all physicality and consciusness. The Divine Flame in the microcosm, the primary Cause, the Crown, the Monad (the one indivisible and absolute consciousness thrilling throughout every particle and infinitesimal point in the manifested universe in Space.
We can train ourselves to be able to attune to the various spheres, at will. That is, we can learn to induce in ourselves the magical state of consciousness of each (at least the lower seven). Our first objective in doing this is to familiarize ourselves with the primary characteristics of each sphere. This will strengthen the counterpart of each of the powers within the depths of your psyche. This is nourishing and increases your personal potential, and at the same time ensures the balanced progress of your psychological and spiritual development.
Having strengthened these archetypal counterparts and enhanced your awareness of them, and having learned to attune yourself readily to the powers of the spheres, you will be able to draw upon the mighty resources of one or another of those powers as you require, either in psychophysical, psychosexual, and psychological exercises, rituals, meditation, or daily life.
The Qabala is thus a system of relationships among mystical symbols which can be used to open access to the hidden reaches of the mind--beyond the frontiers of reason. Qabala gives us the means to penetrate the meaning behind symbolism, and pass through its interdimensional gates.
It could be regarded as the mystical process in reverse. A natural mystic will have visions by what he calls "the Grace of God" and then attempt to write down his experience in symbolism or analogy. He seeks the nearest approximate metaphors in the language of the mind. The Qabala, by a study of symbolism and archetypes, helps the Qabalist to break through to the reality that the mystic has attempted to describe.
Universal symbolism is more or less immutable in basic significance. The symbolism of mystical man includes the birth mysticism of origins, the heroic battles of the mysticism of love and rebirth, and the mysteries of death and the afterlife. On the Tree of Life, these are all coordinated by the central sphere, Tiphareth, the Sun. It symbolizes the rosy dawn of illumination after crossing the realm of the stars and the moon. Numerical symbolism is shown in the essential 3-ness of the triangle, the Three-In-One of Divinity; the thesis, antithesis and synthesis of Hegelian philosophy; the possible modes of manifestation of force--active, passive and equilibrated. The Sun is the center of a system, source of light, sustainer of life and is a symbol of Deity, etc.
The Tree of Life is waiting to share its fruits with us if we but partake. It is the source of spiritual nourishment. May you eat hearty and enjoy the savor of the One Taste.