the Order of the
Thelemic Golden Dawn
(Order of the T\G\D\)
By David Cherubim
(Frater Aurora Aureae)
Copyright © 1992 e.v.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
We shall properly begin this three-part-lesson on the Science of the Qabalah by expounding the meaning of the word itself. The word Qabalah is derived from the root Qibel (QBL), which means, "to receive." This refers to the ancient custom of transmitting Qabalistic knowledge by the method of oral transmission. The Qabalah is the "received" doctrine, the esoteric side of the scriptures, the "Chokmah Nistorah" or Secret Wisdom of the Inner School, that is, the inner truth as opposed to the outer form.
The Qabalah is a medieval and modern system of Jewish theosophy, mysticism, and thaumaturgy. It is a form of Occult Philosophy, which is marked by the ancient belief in the creation of the Universe through the process of emanation. It is also a Cipher Method for interpreting sacred scriptures. It contains within the sanctuary of its wisdom a Way of Life and Initiation. Like all true esoteric sciences, the Qabalah cannot be taught to anyone; every individual must experience it in their own unique way. The real mysteries of the Qabalah must be discovered for and by oneself, and it is you who must create your own Qabalah according to the knowledge of your own practical experiences of the application of its fundamental principles. This lesson is not designed to teach you the Qabalah, rather is it designed to demonstrate to you its fundamental principles. It is simply a skeleton of instruction; you make the body of experience.
Eliphas Levi, the famous French Magus of the 19th Century, stated the following informative words concerning the Science of the Qabalah:
"On penetrating into the Sanctuary of the Kabalah one is seized with admiration in the presence of a doctrine so logical, so simple and at the same time so absolute. The essential union of ideas and signs; the consecration of the most fundamental realities by primitive characters; the trinity of words, letters and numbers; a philosophy simple as the alphabet, profound and infinite as the Word; theorems more complete and luminous than those of Pythagoras; a theology which may be summed up on the fingers; an infinite which can be held in the hollow of an infant's hand; ten fingers and twenty-two letters, a triangle, a square and a circle: such are the elements of the Kabalah. Such also are the component principles of the written Word, reflections of that spoken Word which created the world! All truly dogmatic religions have issued from the Kabalah and return therein. Whatsoever is grand or scientific in the religious dreams of the illuminated, of Jacob Bohme, Swedenborg, Saint Martin and the rest, is borrowed from the Kabalah; all Masonic associations owe to it their secrets and their symbols. The Kabalah alone consecrates the alliance of universal reason and the Divine Word; it establishes by the counterpoise of two forces in apparent opposition, the eternal balance of being; it alone reconciles reason with faith, power with liberty, science with mystery: it has the keys to the present, past and future!"
The principal Qabalistic Books are the Sepher Yetzirah (Book of Formation) and the Sepher Ha-Zohar (Book of Splendor). A man named Akibha ben Joseph, who was a Rabbi of the first century, wrote down the Sepher Yetzirah in Hebrew. It first appeared in actual print in a Latin translation by a man named William Postel, which was published in Paris in 1552, and ten years later the original Hebrew appeared in print. Akibha founded the first Qabalistic School. His pupil named Simeon ben Yochai succeeded him. Akibha suffered persecution by the Romans, and was martyred by them. Sepher Yetzirah did not originate in the mind of Akibha; it was transmitted to him orally. The mythical Abraham, as one tradition states, was the true originator or the first to receive the Wisdom of the Qabalah and the Sepher Yetzirah, and it was to his son Isaac that he transmitted its Sacred Wisdom, whereas to his other son, Ishmael, he transmitted the sacred mysteries of Alchemy.
Sepher Ha-Zohar was said to be composed by Simeon ben Yochai, the pupil of Akibha. But it was not written down until the year 1290 by Rabbi Moses ben Leon. He wrote it in Aramaic under the pseudonym of Simeon ben Yochai. Moses ben Leon was the first to write it down, but its origin is much older. Much of the Zohar goes back to Mishnic times, around A.D. 70- 200. The Zohar first appeared in printed form in the Hebrew language in Mantua in 1558. The Zohar is basically a commentary on the Torah (Pentateuch).
Tradition also states that it was the Great Archangel Metatron who originally transmitted the Wisdom of the Qabalah to man. In "The Book of Metatron," received by my own hand in the year 1988 e.v., it is proclaimed by the Archangel Metatron: "Mine is the Secret Doctrine of the Mysteries of the Qabalah, which I delivered into the hearts of men by way of My Inner Voice of Illumination." This Inner Voice is the Divine Revelation of the Ageless Wisdom. Often, in the presence of superior forces or in extreme cases of danger, this Voice will appear to illuminate and guide you. It is the Word of God in the heart of man, and all true Mysteries of the Universe are revealed by this Inner Voice. Experience has informed me that it is a most difficult task to describe this Inner Voice to one who has not directly experienced its divine illumination and rapture. When it reveals itself to the soul of man, it speaks just as clearly as if another human being were speaking directly into your ear. He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear.
Aside from tradition and myth, the Qabalah is said to be of Egyptian and Chaldaic origin. But the Qabalah itself, being the expression of Cosmic Truth, can have had no actual beginning but must be as eternal as the Truth. It is the Ageless Wisdom of Man and it is the vehicle of the Divine Knowledge, which is eternal in the heavens. The true origins of the Qabalah can only be found in the Infinite where the Immortal Gods conceive all divine mysteries. The Qabalah is as ancient as the Eternal Wisdom, which was never born and shall never die. It is the immortal language of the Angels, and by learning this ageless angelic language man can make direct contact and commune with angelic beings who are the messengers of the Eternal Wisdom.
Now the whole object of the Qabalah is the same that we find in all the esoteric sciences and arts. It is to attain the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, which, in the Qabalah, is symbolized by Adam Qadmon, whom the Gods hath made in Their own Image. Adam Qadmon is the Inner Man, your True Self, that which is the essence of every aspect of your being, the Life of all that you are. It is the microcosmic reflection in you of the Macrocosmic Self, a ray of the Universal Sun.
To create your own unique Qabalah, by the practical comprehension and application of its fundamental principles and teachings, is a most creative and scientific method of attaining the Knowledge and Conversation of your own Holy Guardian Angel, to accomplish the Great Work of the Adepti of Light. The Qabalah can inspire a man's inner genius to take correct action to manifest itself in the sphere of consciousness, to attain conscious realization and union with itself. Therefore let us advance in our scientific study of the fundamental principles of the Qabalah. I recommend that you all attempt to memorize every aspect of this lesson, to grasp its every principle and formula.
The Qabalah is traditionally classed under four heads:
1. The Practical Qabalah. Talismanic and Ceremonial Magick.
2. The Literal Qabalah. Divided into three parts: Gematria (Gk. "Geometria"), Notariqon (Ltn. "Notarius", a short hand writer), and Temurah (Heb. "Permutation").
3. The Unwritten Qabalah. Only communicated orally.
4. The Dogmatic Qabalah. The doctrinal portion.
The Practical Qabalah concerns itself with Talismanic and Ceremonial Magick; the Literal Qabalah concerns itself with the occult use of letters and numbers; the Unwritten Qabalah concerns itself with the knowledge in which certain sets of symbols are arranged on the Tree of Life; and the Dogmatic Qabalah concerns itself with Qabalistic literature.
The Master Key to understanding the Science of the Qabalah is the Tetragrammaton or so-called Incommunicable Name of God, Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh, vulgarly pronounced Jehovah. It is not really a name at all, but indicates in occult science a supreme magical formula of universal importance. It is a noun derived from a Hebrew verb meaning, "to be." Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh can be translated as "That which was, is, and is to come." In Roman letters corresponding to Hebrew letters, Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh is written as IHVH. IHVH is a symbol of the One Reality of Existence behind all manifestation.
In Qabalistic Philosophy there are Four Worlds which constitute the Universe. All possible modes of operation of the One Reality of Existence are classified into these Four Worlds. After a certain manner they correspond with the Four Philosophical Elements. The Four Worlds and the Four Elements correspond with the Four Letters of the Tetragrammaton.
The Four Qabalistic Worlds are:
1. Olahm Ha-Atziluth (World of Emanations. It is also called the Archetypal World).
2. Olahm Ha-Briah (World of Creation. It is also called Khorsia, the Throne).
3. Olahm Ha-Yetzirah (World of Formation. It is also called the World of Angels).
4. Olahm Ha-Assiah (Material World. It is also called Olahm Ha-Qliphoth, the 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. (See the Tree of Life on the last page of this lesson.) Since there is a Tree of Life in each of the Four Worlds, there are forty Spheres in all. Yet in each Sphere there is contained its own Tree of Life and in each Sphere of that Tree is contained yet another Tree, so that there are in fact an infinite amount of Trees and Spheres in Qabalistic Philosophy.
The ten Sephiroth of the Tree of Life have points of contact with each of the Four Qabalistic Worlds. In the Archetypal World the Sephiroth manifest through the ten Holy Names of God; in the Creative World the Sephiroth manifest through the ten Mighty Archangels; in the Formative World the Sephiroth manifest through the ten Angelic Hosts; and in the Material World the Sephiroth manifest through what are termed the ten Mundane Chakras. These Chakras are the Primum Mobile, the Sphere of the Zodiac, the Seven Planets, and the Elements.
The Tetragrammaton itself is referred to the ten Sephiroth of the Tree. The uppermost point of the letter Yod is Kether; the letter Yod itself is Chokmah, the Supernal Father; the letter Heh, or the "supernal Heh", is Binah, the Supernal Mother; the letter Vav is the next six Sephiroth of the Tree, which are called the six members of Microprosopos; and the final Heh, or the "inferior Heh" is Malkuth, the bride of Microprosopos.
In the Science of the Qabalah, there are recognized three essential parts of the Soul. These are the following:
1. Neschamah (Soul, Intuition)
2. Ruach (Spirit, Mind)
3. Nephesch (Animal soul)
Neschamah is the Supernal Triad, which consists of the three Sephiroth called Kether, Chokmah and Binah on the Tree of Life, but most especially is Neschamah related to Binah. Ruach is the next six Sephiroth (Chesed, Geburah, Tiphareth, Netzach, Hod, and Yesod). Nephesch is the Sephira Malkuth. Eliphas Levi stated the following concerning the three parts of the Soul: "The body is the veil of Nephesch. Nephesch is the veil of Ruach. Ruach is the veil of the shroud of Neschamah."
There are two other parts of the Soul in the Qabalistic Philosophy. These are called the Yechidah and Chiah. The Yechidah (True Self) is referred to Kether; the Chiah (Life Force, or True Will) is referred to Chokmah. These two are contained in the Eternal Neschamah that is represented in Tarot by the Empress Atu (Card III of the Major Arcana). The Empress is Isis in Nature, and she is also the Queen of Heaven. She is the source and the fulfillment of all things terrestrial and celestial, material and spiritual. She is Mother Venus, Goddess of all. The symbol of Venus, which is also the symbol of Woman, is a Cross surmounted by a Circle. It is a symbol that contains in itself the idea of all the Sephiroth of the Tree of Life; it contains all of the forces of Nature, just as the Holy Neschamah contains all within itself.
In Qabalistic Philosophy there are recognized three planes of unmanifestation called the three Veils of Negative Existence. The first of these Veils is AIN, Negativity; the second is AIN SOPH, the Limitless; and the third is AIN SOPH AUR, the Limitless Light. It is from the latter of these three that Kether, the first Sephira of the Tree of Life, is concentrated into existence, and which is the source of the other Sephiroth.
AIN SOPH AUR is That which is realized beyond the Tree of Life. It is an ineffable state of existence that we cannot directly comprehend by our minds. The three Veils of Negative Existence formulate the hidden ideas of the Sephiroth not yet called into being. They are concentrated in Kether, which in this sense is the Malkuth of the hidden ideas of the Sephiroth. Malkuth is the tenth Sephira on the Tree of Life.
The word AIN consists of three letters which represent the first three Sephiroth of the Hidden Tree of Life. AIN SOPH (AIN SVPh) consists of six letters that represent the first six Sephiroth of the Hidden Tree of Life. AIN SOPH AUR (AIN SVPh AVR) consists of nine letters that represent the first nine Sephiroth of the Hidden Tree of Life. Kether is the first of the manifested Sephiroth, the concentrated center of the Limitless, and it is said to be the Malkuth or number ten of the Hidden Tree of Life. Thus, "Kether is in Malkuth, and Malkuth is in Kether."
To truly comprehend and understand the Science of the Qabalah depends upon the intelligent and profound application of the occult principle of analogy. Consider the following informative words by Eliphas Levi:
"Analogy yields all forces of Nature to the Magus; analogy is the quintessence of the Philosophical Stone, the secret of perpetual motion, the quadrature of the circle, the Temple resting on the two pillars of Jakin and Boaz, the key of the Great Arcanum, the root of the Tree of Life, the science of good and evil. To find the exact scale of correspondences in things appreciable by science is to fix the bases of faith and thus become possessed of the rod of miracles. Now, there exists a principle and a rigorous formula, which is the Great Arcanum. Let the wise man seek it not, since he has already found it; let the profane seek forever: they will never find."
The Tree of Life
The Tree of Life is a "western mandala" and it can be used for mystical purposes of meditation. It can also be used as a practical system of occult knowledge upon which to base the formula of one's Ritual Magick. These may be called the subjective and objective ways by which to use the Tree of Life. The Tree comprehends and synthesizes all forces, forms, and concepts of the Universe, and it embraces all essential keys to attain true union with the Divine. It is a most excellent model by which to view your entire Universe. It allows you to see all the differences of your Universe while at the same time allowing you to maintain conscious Unity. (See Tree of Life on the last page of this lesson.)
The Tree of Life is the most profound method for classifying the phenomena of the Universe, and it helps us to develop an understanding about the various subtle relations between those phenomena. Every member of the Thelemic Order of the Golden Dawn should commit the Tree to memory, and it should become the automatic background of all his or her thinking. For the Qabalistic Tree of Life plays a vital role in the initiation and training of the Golden Dawn Magician. Every phenomenon, every idea and every experience must be referred to the Tree according to the scientific principle of analogy. By this means the Golden Dawn Magician cultivates an organized mind and strengthens his magical knowledge, and he will inevitably be able to unify that knowledge and transmute the Many into the One.
The Sepher Yetzirah speaks of Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom. These are the Thirty-two Paths of the Concealed Glory. Thirty-two is the numerical value of the word Laib (LB) which means the Heart of Man. Thus the Thirty-two Paths are the occult mysteries of the Doctrine of the Heart. These are the ten Sephiroth and the twenty-two Paths of the Tree of Life. Sephira is singular; Sephiroth is plural. It means "numerical emanation."
In the Science of the Qabalah, a Path signifies a hieroglyphic idea, or rather the sphere of ideas, which may be attributed to any glyph or symbol. The Sephiroth must be studied in relation to each other, especially by way of their connections through the twenty-two Paths, and the Paths must be studied in relation to the Spheres which they connect. The Sephiroth are objective and must be interpreted macrocosmically; the Paths are subjective and must be interpreted microcosmically. The Sephiroth concern the Greater Mysteries of Man, and the Paths concern the Lesser Mysteries of Man.
The Tree of Life contains Three Triads. The first triad has been called the Intellectual World or Olahm Mevshekal, and it consists of the Sephiroth Kether, Chokmah and Binah; the second is called the Moral World or Olahm Morgash, and it consists of the Sephiroth Chesed, Geburah, and Tiphareth; and the third is called the Material World or Olahm Ha-Mevetbau, and it consists of the Sephiroth Netzach, Hod and Yesod. These have also been called the Supernal Triad, the Ethical Triad and the Astral Triad, which certainly seem to be more appropriate terms for these three Triads of the Tree of Life.
The first Sephira of the Tree of Life is called the Crown or the Inscrutable Height; the second is called Wisdom; the third is called Understanding; the fourth is called Love, Mercy or Majesty; the fifth is called Severity, Justice or Fear; the sixth is called Beauty; the seventh is called Victory; the eighth is called Splendor or Glory; the ninth is called the Foundation; and the tenth is called the Kingdom.
Each Sephira of the Tree receives the influence from the Sephira that precedes it and transmits that same energy to the Sephira that next follows it down the Tree. It is therefore stated that each Sephira on the Tree is feminine or passive in relation to its predecessor and masculine or active in relation to its successor. But it is even more important to remember that each Sephira in itself is both masculine and feminine in nature. For the Sephiroth are emanations, not creations; they are the cosmic powers which constitute all of creation, and are dual in essence.
The invisible connecting link of the Sephiroth is the Ruach, or Spirit, from Mezlah or the Hidden Influence. Mezlah is the Holy Spirit of Metatron and the descending Divine Influence of Kether. The numerical value of Mezlah is 78, which is also the number of cards in Tarot.
In all, the ten Sephiroth represent in Qabalistic Philosophy the Archetypal Man, called Adam Qadmon in the Hebrew tongue. The whole aim of the Secret Wisdom of the Qabalah is to regain conscious union with Adam Qadmon, or the Inner Man. He is the Primordial Being or the Heavenly Man, also called Adam Auilah in the Hebrew tongue.
The ten Sephiroth have a direct relationship with the Sun, Moon, Planets and Elements. Pluto corresponds with Kether or the Crown; Uranus corresponds with Chokmah or Wisdom; Saturn corresponds with Binah or Understanding; Jupiter corresponds with Chesed or Mercy; Mars corresponds with Geburah or Severity; the Sun corresponds with Tiphareth or Beauty; Venus corresponds with Netzach or Victory; Mercury corresponds with Hod or Glory; the Moon corresponds with Yesod or the Foundation; and the Four Elements of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth correspond with Malkuth or the Kingdom.
All the planets have been listed but Neptune. Neptune corresponds with the so-called Invisible Sephira on the Tree of Life. This hidden Sephira is called Daath or Knowledge and is located in the Abyss below Chokmah and Binah on the Tree. It was the original location of Malkuth before the so-called Fall of Man. This Sephira is said to be formed out of the conjunction of Chokmah and Binah. It is situated astride the Abyss and it is the Crown of the Ruach. Crowley informs us that the Sephira Daath is in another dimension to the other Sephiroth, and it forms the Apex of a Pyramid of which the three supernal Sephiroth Kether, Chokmah, and Binah form the three basal angles. Concerning the Sephira Daath, Crowley had this to say: "It is important to explain the Position of Daath or Knowledge upon the Tree. It is called the Child of Chokmah and Binah, but it hath no place. It is really the Apex of a Pyramid of which the three first Numbers form the Base. He continues: "Now the Tree, or Minutum Mundum, is a Figure in a Plane of a solid Universe. Daath, being above the Plane, is therefore a Figure of a Force in four Dimensions, and thus it is the Object of the Magnum Opus. The three Paths which connect it with the First Trinity are the three lost Letters or Fathers of the Hebrew Alphabet."
The ten Sephiroth of the Tree correspond in Tarot with the Minor Arcana cards. The four aces are Kether; the four twos are Chokmah; the four threes are Binah; the four fours are Chesed; the four fives are Geburah; the four sixes are Tiphareth; the four sevens are Netzach; the four eights are Hod; the four nines are Yesod; and the four tens are Malkuth. Each of these Minor Arcana cards represent the operation of one of the Sephiroth in a particular element. For instance, the Six of Wands represents the operation of Tiphareth in the element of fire; for the Wand is a symbol of fire. The Cup cards represent the operation of the Sephiroth in the element of Water; the Sword cards represent the operation of the Sephiroth in the element of Air; and the Coin or Pentacle cards represent the operation of the Sephiroth in the element of Earth.
The following is a listing of the ten Sephiroth and their corresponding Tarot Trumps: Kether is the Fool; Chokmah is the Magus; Binah is the Priestess; Chesed is Fortune (or Wheel of Fortune); Geburah is the Tower; Tiphareth is the Sun; Netzach is the Empress; Hod is the Aeon (or Judgement); Yesod is the Hanged Man; Malkuth is the Universe (or the World).
The ten Sephiroth have a direct relationship with the Seven Chakras or Centers of Prana in Yoga Philosophy. Kether is Sahasrara, the Crown Chakra; Chokmah is Ajna, the Brow Chakra; Binah is Visuddhi, the Throat Chakra; Chesed, Geburah and Tiphareth correspond to Anahata, the Heart Chakra; Netzach is Manipura, the Solar Plexus Chakra; Hod is Svadistthana, the Navel Chakra; and Yesod and Malkuth correspond to Muladhara, the Root Chakra.
In the Hebrew language there are twenty-two letters. These correspond with the twenty-two Paths of the Tree of Life. The Hebrew Alphabet has been properly called the Holy Alphabet of the Gods and the Angelic Alphabet. The famous Sepher Yetzirah divides the twenty-two Hebrew letters into three classes of three, seven and twelve. These are:
1. The three Mother Letters: Aleph, Mem, and Shin.
2. The seven Double Letters: Beth, Gimel, Daleth, Kaph, Peh, Resh, and Tav.
3. The twelve Single Letters: Heh, Vav, Zayin, Cheth, Teth, Yod, Lamed, Nun, Samekh, Ayin, Tzaddi, and Qoph.
The three Mother Letters correspond with the three Philosophic Elements of Air (Aleph), Water (Mem), and Fire (Shin). They also correspond with the three Gunas of Samkhya Philosophy (Aleph=Sattva, Mem=Tamas, Shin=Rajas) and with the three Principles of Alchemy (Aleph=Mercury, Mem=Salt, Shin=Sulphur). These three letters are reflections of the Supernal Triad of Light, Wisdom and Understanding. The seven Double Letters correspond with the Seven Ancient Planets, the Seven Chakras, the Seven Alchemical Metals, the Seven Steps of Initiation, the Seven Days of the Week, the Seven Elohim or Spirits of God, the Seven Eyes of God, the Seven Archangels, the Seven Masters, the Seven Steps of Solomon's Temple, the Seven Colors, the Seven Senses, and the Seven Musical Tones. The twelve Single Letters correspond with the Twelve Astrological Signs of the Zodiac.
The twenty-two Paths correspond with the twenty-two Atu of Thoth, or the Major Arcana Cards of the Tarot, numbered 0-XXI. Aleph is The Fool, Beth is The Magician, Gimel is The Priestess, Daleth is The Empress, Heh is The Star (or The Emperor), Vav is The Hierophant, Zayin is The Lovers, Cheth is The Chariot, Teth is Strength (Lust), Yod is The Hermit, Kaph is The Wheel of Fortune, Lamed is Justice (Adjustment), Mem is The Hanged Man, Nun is Death, Samekh is Temperance (Art), Ayin is The Devil, Peh is The Tower, Tzaddi is The Emperor (or The Star), Qoph is The Moon, Resh is The Sun, Shin is Judgement (The Aeon), and Tav is The World (The Universe).
Twenty-two in Occult Mathematics is the number of the Circle. The Circle symbolizes infinity and it represents a complete manifestation and cycle of universal forces. The Circle is a symbol of the Whole Universe. There are twenty-two essential forces which constitute the Universe in Man, which we may define as being the real elements of our conscious and subconscious lives. The Major Arcana are symbols of these inner elements which we may use to penetrate the Veil of Isis, to partake the Supreme Sacrament of Eternal Wisdom.
The twenty-two Paths of the Qabalistic Tree of Life are forces of archetypal existence in the subconscious mind of man. They are microcosmic and subjective, whereas the ten Circular Spheres (Sephiroth) of the Tree of Life are macrocosmic and objective. All twenty-two Paths are living essential aspects of the individual psyche of a man. By experiencing each of these inner forces, in their various modes of psychological expression, we can extend our conscious empires of knowledge and experience and thus obtain greater progress in our dynamic endeavor to participate in the grand scheme of divine evolution.
Each Path of the Tree is a door to achieving psychological and spiritual awareness. By experiencing the various modes of the Serpent Force, represented by the twenty-two Paths of the Tree, we can realize ourselves in the light of true knowledge and attain authentic insight into the meaning and goal of our existence. Now each Path is a microcosmic reflection and representation of a macrocosmic or universal power. By experiencing each of the microcosmic Paths of the Serpent Force, we can extend ourselves in such a manner as to unite ourselves with those various macrocosmic powers. In other words, we develop cosmic consciousness and universal life, which is the essential destiny of all things.
If we work with the Paths in the proper manner up the Tree of Life, as a Way of Self-Initiation, we can produce those necessary states of awareness which are required for the development of Universal Consciousness. In this case we start with the Serpent's tail at the Path of Tav on the bottom of the Tree of Life and we end at the head of the Serpent in the Path of Aleph at the top of the Tree of Life. In other words, we commence our journey from Malkuth (Below) and we end in Kether (Above). Malkuth is earth, our natural place of habitation. Kether is Spirit, our transcendent home of spiritual being. If we ascend upward to Kether, it is the same as saying that we become one with God or the Universal Consciousness. This is certainly an endeavor of great significance and is the goal of all who seek to evolve spiritually and psychologically. The Paths of the Tree of Life are a good means of accomplishing this high goal, for they are doors to the Palace of the Infinite; and the Royal Serpent of Initiation which ascends the Tree of Life is the Sole Guide to that Ineffable Splendor of the Gods.
The twenty-two Paths are microcosmic realities that concentrate and equilibrate the macrocosmic forces represented by the Sephiroth on the Tree of Life. Each Path is a door to achieving union with the divine forces of the Universe, and they inevitably lead to the Ageless Wisdom. The force of each Path is represented by its corresponding Tarot Card related to its corresponding Hebrew letter. Thus the eleventh Path of Aleph is The Fool on the Tree of Life. This particular Path connects Kether and Chokmah, and represents the spiritual consciousness related thereto.
In the Qabalah there are what are termed the Three Paths of the Tree of Life. These three Paths are called the Path of the Arrow, the Path of the Flaming Sword or Lightning Flash, and the Path of the Serpent.
The Path of the Arrow consists of the Sephiroth of the Middle Pillar and ascends upward from Malkuth to Kether. The Arrow is a symbol of Pure Aspiration. The Arrow is shot from the Bow of Promise, Qesheth, the Rainbow of Astral colors that spreads like a halo behind Yesod. It represents the Path of the Mystick and it is called The Way of Illumination. The Golden Dawn practice of Rising on the Planes takes place up the Central Pillar of the Tree of Life by way of the Path of the Arrow.
The Path of the Flaming Sword or Lightning Flash consists of all ten Sephiroth and descends from Kether to Malkuth. It represents the Way of Emanation. The Sword strikes down from Kether through the Sephiroth as a zigzag flash. It is the Flaming Sword of the Qabalistic Doctrine of Creation, embracing all of the Sephiroth of the Tree of Life, with Kether at the hilt and the point descending to Malkuth. It is the Lightning Flash that descended from Heaven, and, as an occult theory states, created the existing Universe.
The Path of the Serpent embraces within its coils the twenty-two Paths and it ascends from Tav to Aleph. It represents the Path of the Magician, and it is called The Way of Initiation. The Serpent itself is Nechushtan, a symbol of wisdom and initiation. The twenty-two Paths of the Tree are the various modes of the essence of this Serpent Force. This Serpent Force, in the Eastern Science of Yoga, is symbolized by the Kundalini which, for purposes of initiation, must be controlled, sublimated and made to ascend through the various Chakras in the Subtle Body to the Inner Crown of Illumination symbolically located above the head. In Magick this Serpent Force is known as the Astral Light, which is a subjective, electro-magnetic current within all. To control and direct the various modes of this Astral Light is the supreme method by which to cultivate and activate the Magical Will.
The ascending Serpent of the Tree is a ‘phallic’ symbol representing the inner force of creative reproduction, that is, sexual energy. The proper development and application of this ‘phallic’ energy is the true method and manner of affecting genuine magical conditions in Nature. This requires effective mental control and proper assertion of the Magical Will. What is essential is to consciously develop knowledge of the various modes of this `phallic' energy, represented by the Paths of the Tree, so as to consciously experience and thus transcend their inner nature. By doing this we can ascertain, enlarge, and exert our Magical Will with greater wisdom and skill.
The Pillars of
the Tree of Life
The Pillars represent the three possible ways in which force can manifest itself. There are three of these Pillars, and they represent the universal principles of Activity, Passivity and Equilibrium. The left hand Pillar is called the Pillar of Severity; the right hand Pillar is called the Pillar of Mercy; and the Middle Pillar is called the Pillar of Harmony and Consciousness. The left and right hand Pillars are the Pillars of Function and Manifestation, whereas the Middle Pillar is the Pillar of Equilibrium.
The Qabalah informs us that all of manifestation is based on the universal principle of duality. In each Sephira of the Tree of Life there is concentrated a duality of force; it is the principle of polarity acting within each Sephira for the manifestation of that Sephira's energy; it is the operation of the Pillars of Manifestation within each Sephira. The Pillars are not really a part of the Tree of Life; they are the possibilities of manifestation contained within each Sephira of the Tree. The only true Unity is in the Unmanifest, beyond Kether, in the Great Unknown. Even in Kether there is in operation the dual-principle of the Pillars of Manifestation.
The Pillar of Severity consists of the Sephiroth called Binah, Geburah, and Hod, and indicates the Passive principle in Nature. The Pillar of Mercy consists of the Sephiroth called Chokmah, Chesed and Netzach, and indicates the Active principle in Nature. The Central Pillar of the Tree consists of the Sephiroth called Kether, Tiphareth, Yesod, and Malkuth, and indicates the balanced principle in Nature. Much useful wisdom can be gained by adding the numbers of the Sephiroth or Paths of the Pillars. For instance, note the fact that the Middle Pillar consists of the numbers 1, 6, 9, and 10. The sum of these numbers is 26, which is the number of the Tetragrammaton, IHVH.
The Pillars of the Tree of Life correspond with the three Alchemical Principles called Sulphur, Salt and Mercury. They also correspond with the three Gunas of Yoga Philosophy called Rajas, Tamas, and Sattva, and with the three Mother Letters of the Hebrew Alphabet, that is, Shin, Mem and Aleph. The left hand Pillar corresponds with Mem (Water), for this Pillar is rooted in Hod and crowned by Binah, which are watery in nature; the right hand Pillar corresponds with Shin (Fire), for this Pillar is rooted in Netzach and crowned by Chokmah, which are fiery in nature; and the Middle Pillar corresponds with Aleph (Air). The Sephiroth of the Middle Pillar are assigned to the element of Air, except Malkuth, which is assigned to the element of Earth.
A certain Sephira on the Tree of Life supports each of the three Pillars. The left hand Pillar is supported by Hod (the creative intellect), the right hand Pillar is supported by Netzach (the creative imagination), and the Middle Pillar is supported by Malkuth (the material body). It is necessary to understand what supports each of the Pillars of the Tree to cultivate strength and skill in the application of those functions of support, to maintain a proper balance of those functions, and to keep the Pillars erect and steady.
The hermetic symbol of the Caduceus embraces the symbolism of the three Pillars. It also embraces the ten Sephiroth in the magical symbolism of the Golden Dawn. In this symbol there are two Serpents that represent the two forces of life and death, activity and passivity, and in the center, at the summit of the Caduceus, there shines the golden globe that represents the equilibrated Light. These are the Qabalistic Forces of OD, OB and AOUR. OD (AVD) is the special Fire of the Sacred Magick of Light, Life, and Love. OB (AVB) is the special Fire of Black Magic. AOUR (AVR) is the Balanced Light of Open Day. These represent the three Ways in which the Serpent Force, called the Astral Light, expresses its various modes of power.
The left and right hand Pillars or Columns of the Tree of Life are the two Pillars that were placed at the porch or entrance of Solomon's Temple. These two Pillars were called Jachin and Boaz. The word Jachin is defined as "he that strengthens" or "will establish." The word Boaz is defined as "in strength." Together these two words signify "in strength shall this my house be established." The house, of course, is the Temple. Consider also that Jachin is called the "Pillar of Cloud," and Boaz is called the "Pillar of Fire."
The two Pillars of Manifestation are the Pillars of the Masonic Temple and they are also the two Pillars that are part of the initiation ceremonies in a Golden Dawn Temple. These two Pillars are the same as the Pillars of Hermes, Set, Shu and Hercules. In Egyptian symbolism, they are the Pillars of the Gods of the Dawning Light. They are the two Pillars of Life and Death and they symbolize the Archangelic Forces of the Great Archangels Metatron and Sandalphon (the two Kerubs of Light and Darkness).
The three Pillars of the Tree correspond to the three principal Nadis of Yoga: Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna. Sushumna is situated in the inside of the cerebro-spinal axis, the Merudanda, and may be said to be next to the spinal marrow. It begins from the lowest center of the human body, the First Chakra called Muladhara (5 cm. above the anus and 5 cm. behind the penis). It then passes through the next five Chakras, and then leads to the Sahasrara Chakra. The Chakras are said to be on the vertebral column in Sushumna. Through the Sushumna passes the Kundalini.
It is said that the Kundalini sleeps until it is awakened in the Muladhara Chakra, closing with its mouth the entrance to the Sushumna. When the Kundalini (Shakti) is awakened, by way of proper initiation, She enters the Royal Way in the central Nadi (Sushumna) to embrace her Lord Shiva above in the Brahmarandhra (Sahasrara Chakra). By this sacramental embrace and union of cosmic forces above and below, Shakti and Shiva are said to make "floods of nectar flow." This work of union is accomplished by controlling the sexual energy which should retain its subtile form and ascend upward with the ascending Prana instead of descending under the form of seminal liquid. Kundalini then rises through the Sushumna and pierces each petal of the seven Chakras which then rise up erect, blossoming into full Lotuses.
Ida and Pingala, like Sushumna, start in the Muladhara Chakra and rise towards the Chakra in the forehead (Ajna), but with an inverse, serpentine movement which causes them to pass from left to right and inversely, surrounding each Chakra without passing through it like the Sushumna. Ida is to the left; it is lunar and feminine. Pingala is to the right; it is solar and masculine. Ida and Pingala meet at the Muladhara Chakra and again at the Ajna where they form a plaited knot and enter the Central Nadi (Sushumna). Thereafter they separate and flow separately.
Now the Pillar itself is a phallic symbol. The Phallus in our Royal Art of Magick does not necessarily refer to the male organ, but to the creative sexual force in Nature, which is the dynamic creative energy in every man and every woman. The three Pillars represent the three ways in which this sexual force can manifest itself, as Active, Passive or Equilibrated. This sexual force is the essence of each Sephira on the Tree.
Finally, my dear brothers and sisters, consider the importance of the fact that in a duly constituted Temple of the Thelemic Order of the Golden Dawn, the three Pillars of the Tree of Life are symbolized in human form by the Three Great Lights of the Temple, called the Prince (or Officer of the Sun), the Princess (or Officer of the Moon), and the Hierophant. The Prince is the Sun, the Princess is the Moon, and the Hierophant is the Child of Their Holy Union.
In the Neophyte Ceremony of the Thelemic Order of the Golden Dawn, it is proclaimed by the Prince: "I am the Royal Prince of the Sun, who stands beside this Neophyte to signify his/her Male Self, the Force of Light in action in his/her soul: and I am the Secret Flame within the heart of this Neophyte, ever burning bright to nourish him/her with Life and Beauty and the Eternal Wisdom. It is then proclaimed by the Princess: "I am the Royal Princess of the Moon, who stands beside this Neophyte to signify his/her Female Self, the Force of Darkness in the soul of Nature: and I am the Secret Aspiration of the soul of this Neophyte, ever seeking to nourish him/her with Love and Bliss and the Eternal Understanding."
The Hierophant then proclaims in the same ceremony: "In thee ever, O Neophyte, are the Royal Forces of the Sun and Moon, and in thee ever do they seek union, so that without that union there is no true equilibrium in the soul. Thou shalt do well to know and unite these two Forces within thyself, so that thou mayest be without suffering and attain true harmony within. Let the Sun and the Moon unite, and let them bear a Hermaphrodite! Let a Child be born from this holy union. And lo! it shall be the Stone of the Wise, and the Medicine of Metals. And so shalt thou perform the Great Work of the Sages. And so shalt thou accomplish the Supreme Goal of the Adepti of Light."
Before we end this lesson, I shall list below the names of books which should be of practical assistance to those of you who thirst for more Qabalistic knowledge, and who would like to expand upon your understanding of this Holy Science. All that we have written in this lesson are just some of the basic principles and teachings of the Qabalah; there is so much more for you to learn, for the Qabalah is an infinite Science, and there is no end to what it can offer to those of you who are sincerely interested in attaining the Eternal Splendor of the Ageless Wisdom. All of the following books were written or translated by members of the Order of the A\A\, Golden Dawn, or Stella Matutina.
777 & Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley
The Secret Wisdom of the Qabalah, by J. F. C. Fuller
The Mystical Qabalah, by Dion Fortune
The Ladder of Lights, by William Gray
A Garden of Pomegranates, by Israel Regardie
The Kabbalah Unveiled, by S. L. MacGregor Mathers
An Introduction to the Study of the Kabalah, by William Wynn Westcott
The Sepher Yetzirah, translated by William Wynn Westcott
A Practical Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism, by Gareth Knight
Here ends our Thelemic Golden Dawn lesson on the Holy Science of the Qabalah. May what is written herein assist you all in the realization and creation of your own unique Qabalah and in the ineluctable development of your own Knowledge of the Highest within yourself. And may you be guided and fortified by your higher aspirations to attain the Ageless Wisdom, the Great Work, the Summum Bonum, True Wisdom, and Perfect Happiness.
Love is the law, love under will.