THE TEN SEPHIROTH IN THE FOUR WORLDS
I. We have already noted the division of the Sep hiroth into the Four Worlds of the Qabalists, for this is one of the methods of classification much employed in Qabalistic thought and of great value when studying evolution. We must remember, however, that the Tree is not an arbitrary method of classification, and because a thing is classified under one head in one system it does not mean that it cannot equally properly be classified under another head in another system. The reappearance of the same symbol in a different Sphere often affords valuable clues.
2. Under another method of classification the Ten Holy Sephiroth are considered as appearing in each Qabalistic World upon another arc or level of manifestation; so that just as Am Soph Aur, the Limitless Light of the Unmanifest, concentrated a point, which was Kether, and the emanations worked down through increasing grades of density to Malkuth, so the Malkuth of Atziluth is conceived of as giving rise to the Kether of Briah, and so on consecutively down the planes, the Malkuth of Briah giving rise to the Kether of Yetzirah, the Malkuth of Yetzirah giving rise to the Kether of Assiah, and the Malkuth of Assiah, in its lowest aspect, abutting upon the Qliphoth.
3. It is Atziluth, however, which is considered the natural sphere of the Sephiroth as such, and for this reason it is called the World of Emanations. It is here, and here only, that God acts directly and not through His ministers. In Briah He acts through the mediation of the Archangels, in Yetzirah through the Angelic Orders, and in Assiah through those centres which I have named the Mundane Chakras-the planets, elements, and signs of the Zodiac.
4. We have, then, in these four sets of symbols a complete system of notation for expressing the mode of function of any given power at any given level, and this system of notation is the basis of ceremonial magic with its Names of Power, and also of talismanic magic and the Tarot system of divination. It is for this reason that it is said of the “barbarous names of evocation” that not so much as a letter may be changed, for these names are formulae based on the Hebrew alphabet, which is the sacred language of the West as Sanskrit is the sacred language of the East. In Hebrew, moreover, each letter is also a number, so the Names are numerical formulae; a most intricate system of metaphysical mathematics, called Gematria, is based on this principle. There are aspects of Gematria which I, at the present stage of my knowledge at any rate, consider debased and idle, being the accretions of superstition, but the basic idea of the system of cosmic mathematics unquestionably enshrines great truths and contains great possibilities. Using this system, it is possible to unravel the relationships of all manner of cosmic factors if the correct Hebrew spelling of the Names of Power is known, for these Names were formulated in accordance with the principles of Gematria, and therefore Gematria supplies the key to them. But this aspect of our subject, fascinating as it is, we cannot enter upon now.
5. In the Archetypal World of Atziluth there are assigned to the Ten Sephiroth ten forms of the Divine Name. Anyone who has read the Bible cannot fail to have observed that God is referred to under divers titles, as the Lord, as the Lord God, as the Father, and by several other appellations. Now these are not literary devices to avoid needless repetition, but are exact metaphysical terms, and according to the Name used we know the aspect of Divine force in question and the plane on which it is functioning.
6. In the world of Briah it is held that the mighty Archangels carry out the mandates of God and give them expression, and assigned to the Sephirothic Spheres on the Tree in this World are the names of these ten mighty spirits.
7. In Yetzirah it is the choirs of angels, innumerable in their concourse, who carry out the Divine commands; and these also are assigned to their Sephirothic Spheres, thus enabling us to know their mode and level of function.
8. In Assiah, as we have already noted, certain natural centres of force are given similar correspondences. We will consider all these associations when we come to study the Sephiroth in detail.
9. In the symbolic rendering of the Ten Holy Sephiroth in the Four Worlds there is another important set of factors to be considered, and these are the four colour scales classified by Crowley as the King scale, assigned to the Atziluthic World; the Queen scale, assigned to the Briatic World; the Emperor scale, assigned to the Yetziratic World; and the Empress scale, assigned to the Assiatic World.
10. This fourfold classification has a far-reaching significance in all Qabalistic matters, and also in Western magic, which is largely based upon the Qabalab. It is said to be under the presidency of the Four Letters of Tetragrammaton, the Sacred Name popularly rendered as Jehovah. In Hebrew, which has no vowels in its alphabet, this word is spelt JHVH, or, according to the Hebrew names of these letters, Yod, He’, Vau, He’. The vowels are indicated in Hebrew by points inserted in and under the square letters of the script, which is written from right to left. These vowel-points were only introduced at a comparatively recent date, and the older Hebrew scripts are unpointed so that the reader cannot see the pronunciation of any proper name for himself, but needs to have it communicated to him by someone who knows it. The true mystical pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton is said to be one of the arcana of the Mysteries.
11. To the Four Letters of the Name are allotted any fourfold mystical classification, and by means of their correspondences we can trace all manner of relationships, and these are very important in practical occultism, as will be seen later.
12. Four important fourfold divisions find a place under them, thus enabling us to see their relationships among themselves. These are the Four Worlds of the Qabalists; the four elements of the alchemists; the fourfold classification of the signs of the Zodiac and the planets into triplicities, employed by the astrologers; and the four suits of the Tarot pack used in divination. This fourfold classification resembles the Rosetta Stone which gave the key to the Egyptian hieroglyphs, for on it were inscriptions in Egyptian and Greek; Greek being known, it was possible to work out the meaning of the corresponding Egyptian hieroglyphs. It is the method of arranging all these sets of factors on the Tree which gives the real esoteric clue to each of these systems of practical occultism. Without this key they have no philosophical basis and become matters of rule of thumb and superstition. It is for this reason that the initiated occultist will have nothing to do with the uninitiated fortune-teller, for he knows that, lacking this key, his system is valueless. Hence the vital importance of the Tree in Western occultism. It is our basis, our standard of measurement, and our textbook.
13. To understand a Sephiroth, then, we need to know firstly its primary correspondences in the Four Worlds; its secondary correspondences in the four systems of practical occultism mentioned above; and, thirdly, any other correspondences we can by any means gather together, in order that the testimony of many witnesses may yield the truth. Of this gathering of correspondences there can be no end, for the whole cosmos on all its planes corresponds in endless sequences. We are constantly adding to our knowledge if we are good students of occult science. No better simile than that of the card-index system could possibly have been found.
14. But yet again we must remind the reader in this connection that the Qabalah is as much a method of using the mind as a system of knowledge. If we have the knowledge without having acquired the Qabalistic technique of mentation, it is of little use to us. In fact, we might go so far as to say that itis not possible to acquire any great degree of knowledge until this technique of the mind has been mastered; for it is not the conscious mind to which the Tree appeals, but subconsciousness, for the logical method of the Qabalah is the logical method of dream association; but in the case of the Qabalah the dreamer is the racial subconsciousness, the oversoul of the peoples, the Earth-spirit. Into communion with this Earth-soul the adept enters by means of meditation on the prescribed symbols. This is the real import of the Tree and its correspondences.
15. The highest of the Four Worlds, Atziluth, the plane of pure Deity, is called by the Qabalists the Archetypal World. It is also called, in the somewhat clumsy translation of MacGregor Mathers, the Intellectual World. This term is misleading. It is only intellectual as we commonly understand the word as relating to the mind, the rationalintellect, in so far as it is the realm of archetypal ideas. But these ideas are entirely abstract, and are conceived by a function of consciousness quite outside the range of mind as we know it. Therefore to call this level the Intellectual World is to mislead the reader, unless at the same time we say that by intellect we mean something quite different to what the dictionary means. This is a poor way of expressing our ideas. It is far better to coin a new term with a precise meaning than to use an old one in a misleadihg sense, especially as, in the case of Atziluth, there is an excellent term already current, the term Archetypal, which exactly describes it.
16. The Atziluthic World is said by the Qabalists to be under the presidency of the Yod of the Sacred Name of Tetragrammaton. We may justly deduce from this that in any other fourfold system whatever is said to be also under the presidency of Yod will refer to the Atziluthic, or purely spiritual aspect of that force or subject. Among other associations given by different authorities are the Wands suit of the Tarot pack and the Element of Fire. It will be apparent to anyone who has any knowledge of occult matters that as soon as we know the element to which a symbol is assigned, we know a good deal, for it opens up all the ramifications of astrology for us, and we can trace out its astrological affinities through the triplicities of the Zodiac and the affinities of the planets with them. As soon as we know what Zodiacal and planetary associations exist, we are in a position to explore the correlated symbolism of any pantheon, for all the gods and goddesses of the systems that the human mind has ever invented have astrological associations. The stories of their adventures are really parables of the workings of cosmic forces. Through this maze of symbolism we could never hope to find our way unaided, but if we anchor the end of each chain of correspondences to its Sephiroth, we have the clue we need.
17. All systems of esoteric thought, as well as all popular theologies, attribute the
construction and presidency of the different parts of the manifested universe to the
mediation of intelligent and purposive beings, working under the instruction of Deity.
Modern thought has tried to escape from the implications of this concept by reducing
manifestation to a matter of mechanics; it has not succeeded, and there are signs that it is not far from the point when it will perceive mind as being at the root of form.
18. The concepts of the Ancient Wisdom may be crude from the standpoint of modern
philosophy, but we are forced to admit that the causative force behind manifestation is more akin in its nature to mind than to matter. To go a step further and personify the different types of force is a legitimate analogy, provided we realize that the entity which is the soul of the force may differ as much in kind and degree from our minds as our bodies differ in type and scale from the bodies of the planets. We shall be nearer an
understanding of nature if we look for mind in the background than if we refuse to admit that the visible universe has an invisible framework. The ether of the physicists is closer akin to mind than to matter; time and space, as understood by the modern philosopher, are more like modes of consciousness than linear measures.
19. The initiates of the Ancient Wisdom made no bones about their philosophy; they took each factor in Nature and personified it, gave it a name, and built up a symbolic figure to represent it, just as British artists have by their collective efforts produced a standard Britannia, a female figure with shield charged with the Union Jack, a lion at her feet, a trident in her hand, a helmet on her head, and the sea in the back ground. Analyzing this figure as we would a Qabalistic symbol, we realize that these individual symbols in the complex glyph have each a significance. The various crosses which make up the Union Jack refer to the four races united in the United Kingdom. The helmet is that of Minerva, the trident is that of Neptune; the lion would need a chapter to himself to elucidate his symbolism. In fact, an occult glyph is more akin to a coat of arms than anything else, and the person who builds up a glyph goes to work in the same way as a herald designing a coat of arms. For in heraldry every symbol has its exact meaning, and these are combined into the coat of arms that represents the family and affiliations of the man who bears it, and tells us his station in life. A magical figure is the coat of arms of the force it represents.
20. These magical figures are built up to represent the different modes of the manifestation of cosmic force in its different types and on its different levels. They are given names, and the initiate thinks of them as persons, not troubling himself about their metaphysical foundations. Consequently, for all practical purposes they are persons, for whatever they may be in actual fact, they have been personalised, and thought-forms have been built up on the astral plane to represent them. These, being charged with force, are of the nature of artificial elementals; but the force with which they are charged being cosmic, they are much more than what we ordinarily imply when we speak of artificial elementals, and we assign them to the angelic kingdom and call them angels or archangels according to their grade. An angelic being, then, may be defined as a cosmic force whose apparent vehicle of manifestation to psychic consciousness is a form built up by the human imagination. In practical occultism, these forms are built up with great care and the most elaborate attention to the details of the symbolism, and are used to evoke the force required; anyone who has had experience of their use will agree that they are peculiarly effectual for the purposes for which they are designed. By holding the magical image in it and vibrating the traditional name assigned thereto, remarkable phenomena are obtained.
21. As we have already noted, it is necessary to use the mental technique of the Qabalists in order to get any sense out of the Qabalah; this formulation of the image and vibration of the name is designed to put the student in touch with the forces behind each Sphere of the Tree, and when he comes into touch in this way his consciousness is illuminated and his nature energized by the force thus contacted, and he obtains remarkable illuminations from his contemplation of the symbols. These illuminations are not a generalized flooding of light, as in the case of the Christian mystic, but a specific energizing and illumination according to the Sphere opened up; Hod gives understanding of sciences, Yesod understanding of life-force and its tidal modes of functioning. When Hod is contacted we become filled with enthusiasm and energy for research; when Yesod is contacted we enter deeply into psychic consciousness and touch the hidden life-forces of the earth and our own natures. These are matters of experience; those who have used the method know what it yields them. Whatever may be the rational foundations of the system, as an empirical method it yields results.
22. If we want to study a Sephirah-in other words, if we want to investigate the aspect of Nature to which it refers-we not only study it intellectually and me~tate upon it, but we try to get into psychic and intuitive touch with its influence and Sphere. In order to
accomplish this, we always start at the top and try to get into spiritual touch with the aspect of Deity which emanated that Sphere and manifests in it. If this is not done, the forces belonging to the Sphere on the elemental levels may get out of hand and cause
difficulties. Starting under the presidency of the Divine Name, however, no evil can enter.
23. Having adored the Creator and Sustainer of All under His Holy Name in the Sphere we are investigating, we next invoke the Archangel of the Sphere, the mighty spi ritual being in whom we personify the forces that built up that level of evolution and continue to function in the corresponding aspect of Nature. We ask the blessing of the Archangel, and beg that he will bid the Order of Angels assigned to that Sphere that they shall be friendly and helpful towards us in the realm of nature in which they function. By the time we have done this, we shall be thoroughly tuned to the keynote of the Sphere we are investigating, and be ready to follow out the ramifications of the correspondences of that Sephiroth and its cognate symbols.
24. Approached in this way, we shall find the association~ chains far richer in symbolism than we have ever believed to be possible, for the subconscious mind has been stirred and one of its many chambers of imagery thrown open, to the exclusion of all the others. The association-chains that rise into consciousness should therefore be free from any admixture of extraneous ideas and true to type.
25. First we review in our minds all the possible symbols that we can recollect, and as these present themselves to consciousness we try and see their import and bearing upon the secrets of the Sphere under investigation. But we do not try too hard; for if we concentrate upon a symbol and strain at it, as it were, we shall close the meshes of the tenuous veil that shields the subconscious mind. In these investigations, half meditation, half reverie, we want to work on the borders of consciousness and subconsciousness so as to induce that which is subconscious to cross the threshold and come within our reach.
26. As we proceed thus, following out the ramifications of the association-chains, we shall find that a running comment of intuition accompanies the process, and after the experiment has been repeated two or three times we shall feel that we know that Sephiroth in a peculiarly intimate way, that we feel at home there, that the feel of it is quite different to that of the other Sephiroth which we have not yet worked with. We shall also find that some Sephiroth are more congenial to us than others, and that we get better results when working with them than we do with the uncongenial ones, where the associations-chains keep on breaking and the doors of subconsciousness resolutely refuse to open to our knocking. One pupil of mine could do excellent meditations on Binah Saturn, and Tiphareth, the Redeemer, but did not get on at all well with Geburah- Severity-Mars.
27. I shall never forget my own experience with the first attempt I made at this method. I was working on the Thirty-second Path, the Path of Saturn, uniting Malkuth and Yesod, a very difficult and treacherous Path. In my horoscope Saturn is not well suspected and I have often experienced his opposing influence in my affairs. But after I had succeeded in treading the Path of Saturn out into the indigo darkness of the Unseen until the Moon of Yesod rose in purple and silver over the horizon, I felt that I had received the initiation of Saturn, that he was no longer inimical to me, but a friend who, though candid and stern, was to be trusted to protect me from mistakes and rash judgments. I realized his function as the tester, and not the antagonist or avenger. I realised him as Time with his scythe, but knew also why he was called in Hebrew Shabbathal, rest, “for he giveth his beloved sleep.” After that, the Thirty-second Path was open to me, not only on the Tree, but in life, for the forces and problems symbolised by that Path and its correspondences had become harmonised in my soul. From these two brief examples it will be seen that the meditations upon the Tree form a most practical and exact system of mystical development; and one that is peculiarly valuable in that it is equilibrated, for the different aspects of manifestation are, as it were, dissected out and dealt with in turn, nothing being neglected. By the time we have trodden all the Paths of the Tree we shall have learnt the lessons of Death and the Devil, as well as of the Angel and the High Priest.
- Frater Barrabbas on Wicca Part 2 (phergoph.wordpress.com)
- Conscious Precipitation of the Appropriate Desirable (thetruthseeker.co.uk)
- The Meaning of Sacred Geometry, Part 3: Expanding from the Point (realitysandwich.com)
- The Month of Iyar – Month of Healing (kabbalahdecoded.wordpress.com)
- The Tetragrammaton – by Albert G. Mackey (fiveblueapples.wordpress.com)