THE FOUR WORLDS
By David Cherubim
(Frater Aurora Aureae)
Copyright © 1992 e.v.
The Order of the
Thelemic Golden Dawn.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
In Qabalistic Philosophy there are Four Worlds of Existence and Manifestation. All possible modes of the operation of the One Reality are classified into these Four Worlds. After a certain manner they correspond with the Four Philosophical Elements of Magick. The Four Worlds and the Four Elements correspond with the Four Letters of the Tetragrammaton (Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh or IHVH).
The Four Worlds of the Qabalah are:
1. Olahm Ha-Atziluth (World of Emanations. Also called the Archetypal World).
2. Olahm Ha-Briah (World of Creation. Also called Khorsia, the Throne).
3. Olahm Ha-Yetzirah (World of Formation. Also called the World of Angels).
4. Olahm Ha-Assiah (Material World. Also called Olahm Ha-Qliphoth, World of Shells).
Atziluth is the World of Emanations and corresponds with the element of Fire and the letter Yod of the Tetragrammaton; Briah is the World of Archangels and corresponds with the element of Water and the letter Heh of the Tetragrammaton; Yetzirah is the World of Angels and corresponds with the element of Air and the letter Vav of the Tetragrammaton; Assiah is the World of Action and corresponds with the element of Earth and the final Heh of the Tetragrammaton. These may also be termed the Spiritual World, the Mental World, the Astral World, and the Material World. The Spiritual World is the highest, being the purest in nature or the Primordial Cause, whereas the three worlds which emanate from it are less divine in nature and are in fact reflections, on a descending scale, of the first world.
In each of the Four Worlds there is contained a Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is a composite symbol that represents the entire Universe and the Soul of WoMan as related thereto. It is made of ten Spheres (Sephiroth) and twenty-two Paths that connect those spheres. Now since there is a Tree of Life in each of the Four Worlds, there are forty Spheres in all. Yet in each Sphere of each Tree there is contained its own Tree of Life, making four hundred Spheres in all. And in each Sphere of that Tree is contained yet another Tree, so that there are, in fact, an infinite number of Trees and Spheres in Qabalistic Philosophy.
On the Qabalistic Tree of Life, the Four Worlds correspond with the four Sephiroth of the Middle Pillar. Thus Kether is the Spiritual World, Tiphareth is the Mental World, Yesod is the Astral World, and Malkuth is the Physical World. These Sephiroth do not actually symbolize the Four Worlds, but they pertain to the actual spiritual principles that govern them. Thus do they indicate in themselves -- and by their arrangement on the Tree of Life -- the nature and order of the Four Worlds of the Qabalah.
Now there is, in fact, only One World. The Four Worlds of the Qabalah are really classifications and representations of the nature of the One World expressing itself through diverse modes of existence. This One World is, in truth, the Spiritual Kingdom of our True Self, that is our Silent and Eternal Nature, the Universal and Divine Source, and the Supreme Spirit and Essence of All Things.
To the illuminated Adept, everything is a manifestation and part of this Spiritual Self, and everything lives in the One World or One Reality of this Universal Self, but still the Adept must manifest this One Self through four different Worlds: the Spiritual, Mental, Astral and Material. The Adept ultimately transcends the illusion of diversity, but the necessity of the Spiritual Consciousness working through relative planes of existence is still a vital part and process of the Great Work.
Let us think of it in terms of the letter Yod, which corresponds to the World of Atziluth. Every other letter in the Hebrew Alphabet is merely a combination of the letter Yod, which indicates the One Self, the One Reality or the One World of Divine Light, the Alpha and Omega of the All in All.
Love is the law, love under will.