The Qabalah & The Tree Of Life
By Dr. Rita Louise
Like the chakras, the Qabalah, via the Tree of Life, provides a defining pattern for the growth and development of the soul and provides a valuable key when looking to understand the function of the subtle bodies and the chakras. Scholars have identified the study of the Qabalah as being the Yoga of the West. The Qabalah forms the basis of Jewish Mysticism. Its foundation, beliefs and tenets echo those of the yogic system including the chakras. It has been theorized that the ideas and methodology used in the chakra system represent abstract ideals that are to be achieved. The Qabalistic system, on the other hand expresses itself through the use of specific notions and concrete symbols, which bring unconscious thoughts, ideas and behaviors into our conscious awareness.
In ancient times, the meaning of the word Qabalah was “The Law”. Today, the word Qabalah is often translated as meaning “that which is received”. While it is not clear exactly where the mystical traditions of the Qabalah originated, some texts claim that this mystical system originated with Moses on Mount Sinai while others say it was provided by the angels to Adam as a means of returning to grace after the fall of man. Regardless of its origin, the Western Mystery Tradition of the Qabalah began to emerge around the second century A.D. and is used as a guide for exploring our inner truths.
Pictorially, the beliefs and principals of the Qabalah are represented in the Tree of Life. The goal of the Tree of Life is to help one find integration and wholeness within themselves and is a symbol that is used to describe the unfolding transition from God to Man. The wonderful thing about the Tree of Life is that it provides us with a road map in which to follow as we venture into the realm of the unconscious.
Tree Of Life
The Tree of Life is broken down into seven distinct levels, which directly correlate to the 7 chakras found in Yogic traditions. In addition to these seven levels, the Tree of Life is also made up of 10 spheres or sephirah (sephiroth plural) that symbolize objective energy centers and discrete states of consciousness that are available to us. Represented by both title and number indicating its sequence in creation, each sephirah acts as a distinct phase in the evolution of the soul.
|8||Hod||Splendor or Glory|
The Paths On The Tree Of Life
In addition to the energies of the sephirah, the Tree of Life is also made up of 22 lines that connect one sephirah to another. These connections are called “paths”. The paths represent our subjective conscious, the experience we have as we pass from one sepiroth to the next. The paths also act as channels of divine influence, providing equilibrium between the two sephirah it connects. Collectively, the sephiroth and paths are called the Thirty Two Paths of Wisdom.
Each path corresponds with one of the twenty-two Hebrew letters, an astrological correspondence and one of the twenty-two major arcane or “trump” cards of a standard tarot deck. The tarot is made up of 78 cards that are used for “fortune telling”, divination, contemplation and meditation. They are divided into four suits of 14 cards, ace through ten, then page, knight, queen and king, plus 22 trump cards such as the Death Card, the Hanged Man and the Lovers.
The four suits, commonly referred to as the Minor Arcana, are representative of the energies of the sephiroth as it acts in each of the four worlds, with each suit, pentacles, swords, cups and wands representing the worlds Assiah, Yetsirah, Binah and Atziluth respectfully. It is interesting to note that a standard deck of playing cards developed from this rich philosophical tradition.
|3||Ghimmel||Moon||2||The High Priestess|
|11||Khaf||Jupiter||10||The Wheel of Fortune|
|13||Mem||Neptune||12||The Hanged Man|
The Pillars & The Tree Of Life
The Tree is also made up of 3 pillars: the Pillar of Severity, the Pillar of Mercy and the Pillar of Equilibrium. The outer pillars symbolize polarities of energy similar to those found in the eastern concepts of Yin and Yang. The Pillar of Mercy is positive, kinetic, active, constructive and the bringer of force. The Pillar of Severity, in turn, is negative, static, passive, destructive and the bringer of form. The three pillars can also be equated to the Sushumna, the Ida and Pingala nadis that run up the spine.
Like the movement of energy through the Ida and Pingala, subtle energy zigzags from positive to negative and then balanced as it travels through the Tree of Life, where it moves along the “Lightning Path”. Following the numerical order of the sepirath, the Lightning Path identifies the route of manifestation, where subtle energy moves from a state of nothingness, through the subtle planes, to finally condense as matter in the physical world.
The Lightning Path & The Tree of Life
The Tree Of Life holds that all of manifestation is based on duality. So, for example, at the 3rd chakra we find the energy of Netzach and Hod. Netzach, at the base of the Pillar of Mercy, is our creative imagination, while Hod, at the base of the Pillar of Severity, personifies concrete goals and objectives established in our minds. If there is too much Netzach and too little Hod present, we might be highly imaginative but impractical. On the other hand, if too much Hod is present and not enough Netzach, we may be good at passing an exam, but possess very little imagination. It is believed that when the sephirah found on the outer poles are balanced, the chakra, the energy center opens.
The Tree of Life gives us a tool that enables us to explore all aspects of our inner and outer selves. The Tree is not static, but is filled with concepts of movement, change and relationships. It helps us to recognize that no aspect of our life can be explained devoid of its relationship to our other parts. With that, no sephirah can be described without reference to the other sephirah. It also shares with us the complex relationships life holds and helps to remind us that attention must be paid to all of our parts.