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                   Notes on Kabbalah (a continuing series of many parts) 

                                 Copyright Colin Low 1991

           Chapter 1.: The Tree of Life

                At  the root of the Cabalistic view of the world are  three
           fundamental  concepts and they provide a natural place to  begin.
           The  three concepts are force,  form and consciousness and  these
           words  are  used in an abstract way,  as the  following  examples

                -  high  pressure steam in the cylinder of  a  steam  engine
                provides a force.  The engine is a form which constrains the

                -  a  river runs downhill under the force  of  gravity.  The
                river channel is a form which constrains the water to run in
                a well defined path.

                - someone wants to get to the center of a garden  maze.  The
                hedges  are a form which constrain that person's ability  to
                walk as they please.

                -  a  diesel engine provides the force which drives  a  boat
                forwards.   A  rudder  constrains  its  course  to  a  given

                -  a  politician wants to change the  law.  The  legislative
                framework  of  the country is a form which he  or  she  must
                follow if the change is to be made legally.

                - water sits in a bowl. The force of gravity pulls the water
                down. The bowl is a form which gives its shape to the water.

                -  a stone falls to the ground under the force  of  gravity.
                Its  acceleration  is constrained to be equal to  the  force
                divided by the mass of the stone.

                - I want to win at chess.  The force of my desire to win  is
                constrained within the rules of chess.

                - I see something in a shop window and have to have it. I am
                constrained  by  the conditions of sale (do  I  have  enough
                money, is it in stock).

                - cordite explodes in a gun barrel and provides an explosive
                force on a bullet. The gas and the bullet are constrained by
                the form of the gun barrel.

                - I want to get a passport. The government won't give me one
                unless I fill in lots of forms in precisely the right way.

                - I want a university degree.  The university won't give  me
                a  degree unless I attend certain courses and  pass  various
           In all these examples there is something which is causing  change

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


           to  take  place ("a force") and there is something  which  causes
           change to take place in a defined way ("a form").  Without  being
           too pedantic it is possible to identify two very different  types
           of example here:

                1.  examples of natural physical processes (e.g.  a  falling
                stone) where the force is one of the natural forces known to
                physics (e.g.  gravity) and the form is some  combination
                of physical laws which constrain the force to act in a  well
                defined way.

                2.  examples of people wanting something, where the force is
                some ill-defined concept of "desire",  "will",  or "drives",
                and  the form is one of the forms we impose  upon  ourselves
                (the rules of chess, the Law, polite behavior etc.).

           Despite  the  fact that the two different types  of  example  are
           "only  metaphorically  similar",  Kabbalists see  no  fundamental
           distinction  between  them.  To the Kabbalist there  are  forces
           which  cause  change  in  the  natural  world,   and  there   are
           corresponding psychological forces which drive us to change  both
           the world and ourselves,  and whether these forces are natural or
           psychological they are rooted in the same  place:  consciousness.
           Similarly,  there  are  forms which the component  parts  of  the
           physical  world  seem  to  obey  (natural  laws)  and  there  are
           completely  arbitrary forms we create as part of the  process  of
           living (the rules of a game, the shape of a mug, the design of an
           engine, the syntax of a language) and these forms are also rooted
           in the same place:  consciousness. It is a Cabalistic axiom that
           there is a prime cause which underpins all the manifestations  of
           force  and form in both the natural and psychological  world  and
           that prime cause I have called consciousness for lack of a better
                Consciousness is undefinable.  We know that we are conscious
           in different ways at different times - sometimes we feel free and
           happy,  at other times trapped and confused,  sometimes angry and
           passionate,  sometimes  cold  and restrained -  but  these  words
           describe  manifestations  of consciousness.  We  can  define  the
           manifestations  of  consciousness in terms of  manifestations  of
           consciousness,  which is about as useful as defining an ocean  in
           terms  of  waves  and  foam.   Anyone  who  attempts  to   define
           consciousness  itself tends to come out of the same door as  they
           went in. We have lots of words for the phenomena of consciousness
           - thoughts,  feelings, beliefs, desires, emotions, motives and so
           on  -  but few words for the states of consciousness  which  give
           rise to these phenomena,  just as we have many words to  describe
           the  surface  of a sea,  but few words to  describe  its  depths.
           Kabbalah  provides  a  vocabulary  for  states  of  consciousness
           underlying the phenomena,  and one of the purposes of these notes
           is to explain this vocabulary,  not by definition,  but mostly by
           metaphor  and analogy.  The only genuine method of  understanding
           what  the  vocabulary  means is by attaining  various  states  of
           consciousness in a predictable and reasonably objective way,  and
           Kabbalah provides practical methods for doing this.

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                A fundamental premise of the Cabalistic model of reality is
           that  there  is  a  pure,   primal,   and  undefinable  state  of
           consciousness which manifests as an interaction between force and
           form.  This is virtually the entire guts of the Cabalistic  view
           of  things,  and almost everything I have to say from now  on  is
           based  on  this  trinity  of  consciousness,   force,  and  form.
           Consciousness  comes first,  but hidden within it is an  inherent
           duality;  there is an energy associated with consciousness  which
           causes   change  (force),   and  there  is  a   capacity   within
           consciousness  to constrain that energy and cause it to  manifest
           in a well-defined way (form).

                                  First Principle
                                /  Consciousness   



                          Capacity                   Raw
                          to take  ________________ Energy
                                     Figure 1.

           What do we get out of raw energy and an inbuilt capacity for form
           and structure?  Is there yet another hidden potential within this
           trinity waiting to manifest? There is. If modern physics is to be
           believed we get matter and the physical world.  The  cosmological
           Big  Bang  model of raw energy surging out from  an  infinitesimal
           point and condensing into basic forms of matter as it cools, then
           into  stars and galaxies,  then planets,  and  ultimately  living
           creatures,  has  many points of similarity with  the  Cabalistic
           model. In the Big Bang model a soup of energy condenses according
           to  some  yet-to-be-formulated  Grand-Universal-Theory  into  our
           physical  world.  What Kabbalah does suggest (and modern  physics
           most  certainly does not!) is that matter and  consciousness  are
           the  same  stuff,  and  differ only in the  degree  of  structure
           imposed  -  matter  is consciousness so  heavily  structured  and
           constrained  that  its behavior becomes  describable  using  the
           regular and simple laws of physics.  This is shown in Fig. 2. The
           primal,  first principle of consciousness is synonymous with  the
           idea of "God".

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                                  First Principle
                                /  Consciousness   

                               /         |          

                              /          |           

                          Capacity       |           Raw
                          to take  _____________ Energy/Force
                           Form          |
                                         |           /
                                         |          /
                                         |         /
                                     The World

                                     Figure 2

           The glyph in Fig.  2 is the basis for the Tree of Life. The first
           principle of consciousness is called Kether,  which means  Crown.
           The  raw energy of consciousness is called Chockhmah  or  Wisdom,
           and  the capacity to give form to the energy of consciousness  is
           called Binah, which is sometimes translated as Understanding, and
           sometimes  as  Intelligence.  The outcome of the  interaction  of
           force and form,  the physical world,  called Malkuth or  Kingdom.
           This  quaternery  is  a Cabalistic  representation  of  God-the-
           Knowable,  in the sense that it the most primitive representation
           of God we are capable of comprehending;  paradoxically, Kabbalah
           also  contains  a notion of God-the-Unknowable  which  transcends
           this glyph,  and is called En Soph.  There is not much I can  say
           about En Soph, and what I can say I will postpone for later.
                God-the-Knowable has four aspects,  two male and two female:
           Kether and Chokhmah are both represented as male,  and Binah  and
           Malkuth are represented as female.  One of the titles of Chokhmah
           is Abba,  which means Father,  and one of the titles of Binah  is
           Aima,  which means Mother,  so you can think of Chokhmah as  God-
           the-Father,   and  Binah  as  God-the-Mother.    Malkuth  is  the
           daughter, the female spirit of God-as-Matter, and it would not be
           wildly  wrong to think of her as Mother Earth.  One of  the  more
           pleasant things about Kabbalah is that its symbolism gives  equal
           place to both male and female.
                And  what  of God-the-Son?  Is there also a  God-the-Son  in
           Kabbalah?  There is, and this is the point where Kabbalah tackles
           the interesting problem of thee and me.  The glyph in Fig. 2 is a
           model of consciousness,  but not of self-consciousness, and self-
           consciousness throws an interesting spanner in the works.

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


           The Fall

                Self-consciousness  is like a mirror in which  consciousness
           sees itself reflected.  Self-consciousness is modelled in Kabbalah
           by making a copy of figure 2.

                                /  Consciousness   

                               /         |          

                              /          |           

                         Consciousness   |      Consciousness
                              of  ________________   of
                             Form        |       Energy/Force
                                         |           /
                                         |          /
                                         |         /
                                       of the

                                     Figure 3

           Figure 3.  is Figure 2. reflected through self-consciousness. The
           overall  effect  of self-consciousness is to  add  an  additional
           layer to Figure 2. as follows:

                                  First Principle
                                /  Consciousness   

                               /         |          

                              /          |           

                          Capacity       |           Raw
                          to take  _____________ Energy/Force
                           Form          |
                                         |           /
                                         |          /
                                         |         /
                                /  Consciousness   

                               /         |          

                              /          |           

                         Consciousness   |      Consciousness
                              of  ________________   of
                             Form        |       Energy/Force
                                         |           /
                                         |          /
                                         |         /
                                       of the
                                     The World
                                     Figure 4

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           Fig.  2  is  sometimes  called "the Garden of  Eden"  because  it
           represents a primal state of consciousness.  The effect of  self-
           consciousness as shown in Fig.  4 is to drive a wedge between the
           First Principle of Consciousness (Kether) and that  Consciousness
           realized  as  matter and the physical world  (Malkuth).  This  is
           called "the Fall",  after the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden
           of Eden. From a Cabalistic point of view the story of Eden, with
           the  Tree  of Knowledge of Good and Evil,  the  serpent  and  the
           temptation,  and the casting out from the Garden has a great deal
           of   meaning   in  terms  of  understanding  the   evolution   of
                Self-consciousness    introduces   four   new   states    of
           consciousness:  the  Consciousness  of  Consciousness  is  called
           Tipheret,  which means Beauty;  the Consciousness of Force/Energy
           is  called  Netzach,   which  means  Victory  or  Firmness;   the
           Consciousness  of Form is called Hod,  which means  Splendor  or
           Glory,  and  the Consciousness of Matter is called  Yesod,  which
           means  Foundation.  These  four states  have  readily  observable
           manifestations, as shown below in Fig. 5:

                                      The Self
                                /        |         

                               /         |          

                              /          |           

                           Language      |         Emotions
                            Reason       |         Feelings
                                         |           /
                                         |          /
                                         |         /
                                     Perception   /

                                      Figure 5

           Figure 4.  is almost the complete Tree of Life,  but not quite  -
           there  are  still two states missing.  The inherent  capacity  of
           consciousness  to take on structure and objectify itself  (Binah,
           God-the-Mother)  is  reflected through  self-consciousness  as  a
           perception of the limitedness and boundedness of things.  We  are
           conscious of space and time, yesterday and today, here and there,
           you  and  me,  in and out,  life and  death,  whole  and  broken,
           together and apart.  We see things as limited and bounded and  we
           have a perception of form as something "created" and "destroyed".
           My  car was built a year ago,  but it was  smashed  yesterday.  I
           wrote an essay, but I lost it when my computer crashed. My granny
           is dead. The river changed its course. A law has been repealed. I
           broke  my  coffee  mug.  The world changes,  and  what  was  here
           yesterday  is  not  here today.  This  perception  acts  like  an
           "interface"   between  the  quaternary  of  consciousness   which
           represents  "God",  and the quaternary which represents a  living
           self-conscious  being,  and  two  new states  are  introduced  to
           represent this interface. The state which represents the creation

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


           of new forms is called Chesed,  which means Mercy,  and the state
           which  represents  the destruction of forms  is  called  Gevurah,
           which   means  Strength.   This  is  shown   in   Fig.   6.   The
           objectification  of forms which takes place in  a  self-conscious
           being,  and the consequent tendency to view the world in terms of
           limitations and dualities (time and space,  here and  there,  you
           and me,  in and out,  God and Man,  good and evil...) produces  a
           barrier to perception which most people rarely overcome,  and for
           this reason it has come to be called the Abyss. The Abyss is also
           marked on Figure 6.

                                  First Principle
                                /  Consciousness   

                               /         |          

                              /          |           

                          Capacity       |           Raw
                          to take  _____________ Energy/Force
                           Form          |            |
                             |           |           /|
                             |           |          / |
                             |           |        /   |
                        Destruction      |        Creation
                            of___________|_____ /____of
                           Form          |     /    Form
                             |           |    /    /  |
                             |           |   /    /   |
                             |     Consciousness /    |
                             |          of            |
                             |  /  Consciousness      |
                             | /         |            |
                             |/          |           ||
                         Consciousness   |      Consciousness
                              of  ________________   of
                             Form        |       Energy/Force
                                         |           / /
                                         |          / /
                                         |         /  /
                                   Consciousness     /
                                        of           /
                                     the World      /
                                         |        /
                                         |       /
                                         |      /
                                     The World

                                      Figure 6

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           The  diagram  in  Fig.   6  is  called  the  Tree  of  Life.  The
           "constructionist"  approach I have used to justify its  structure
           is  a little unusual,  but the essence of my presentation can  be
           found  in  the "Zohar" under the guise of the  Macroprosopus  and
           Microprosopus, although in this form it is not readily accessible
           to  the average reader.  My attempt to show how the Tree of  Life
           can be derived out of pure consciousness through the  interaction
           of an abstract notion of force and form was not intended to be  a
           convincing exercise from an intellectual point of view - the Tree
           of  Life  is  primarily  a gnostic  rather  than  a  rational  or
           intellectual  explanation  of consciousness and  its  interaction
           with the physical world.
                The  Tree is composed of 10 states or  sephiroth  (sephiroth
           plural,  sephira singular) and 22 interconnecting paths.  The age
           of  this diagram is unknown:  there is enough information in  the
           13th.  century "Sepher ha Zohar" to construct this  diagram,  and
           the  doctrine of the sephiroth has been attributed to  Isaac  the
           Blind in the 12th.  century,  but we have no certain knowledge of
           its  origin.  It  probably originated sometime  in  the  interval
           between the 6th.  and 13th.  centuries AD. The origin of the word
           "sephira"  is unclear - it is almost certainly derived  from  the
           Hebrew word for "number" (SPhR),  but it has also been attributed
           to the Greek word for "sphere" and even to the Hebrew word for  a
           sapphire (SPhIR).  With a characteristic aptitude for discovering
           hidden meanings everywhere, Kabbalists find all three derivations
           useful, so take your pick.
                In the language of earlier Cabalistic writers the sephiroth
           represented  ten primeval emanations of God,  ten  foci  through
           which  the energy of a hidden,  absolute and unknown Godhead  (En
           Soph)  propagated  throughout  the  creation,  like  white  light
           passing  through  a prism.  The sephiroth can be  interpreted  as
           aspects of God,  as states of consciousness,  or as nodes akin to
           the  Chakras  in the occult anatomy of a human  being  .
                I  have left out one important detail from the structure  of
           the  Tree.  There is an eleventh "something" which is  definitely
           *not* a sephira,  but is often shown on modern representations of
           the  Tree.  The Cabalistic "explanation" runs as  follows:  when
           Malkuth "fell" out of the Garden of Eden (Fig.  2) it left behind
           a "hole" in the fabric of the Tree,  and this "hole",  located in
           the center of the Abyss,  is called Daath,  or Knowledge. Daath is
           *not* a sephira; it is a hole. This may sound like gobbledy-gook,
           and in the sense that it is only a metaphor, it is.

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                The  completed  Tree of Life with the Hebrew titles  of  the
           sephiroth is shown below in Fig. 7.

                                      En Soph


                          (            Kether           )
                                  /   (Crown)    

                                 /       |        

                                /        |         

                               /         |          

                           Binah         |        Chokhmah
                       (Understanding)__________  (Wisdom)
                        (Intelligence)   |           |
                             |           |          /|
                             |         Daath       / |
                             |      (Knowledge)   /  |
                             |           |       /   |
                          Gevurah        |      /  Chesed
                         (Strength)______|_____/__ (Mercy)
                             |           |    /    (Love)
                             |           |   /     / |
                             |           |  /     /  |
                             |       Tipheret    /   |
                             |   /   (Beauty)        |
                             |  /        |           |
                             | /         |           |
                             |/          |          ||
                            Hod          |        Netzach
                          (Glory) _______________(Victory)
                         (Splendor)     |       (Firmness)
                                         |           / /
                                         |          / /
                                         |         / /
                                         |        /  /
                                       Yesod     /  /
                                    (Foundation)   /
                                         |       /
                                         |      /
                                         |     /

                                      Figure 7

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


           From  an historical point of view the doctrine of emanations  and
           the  Tree  of  Life are only one small part of  a  huge  body  of
           Cabalistic speculation about the nature of divinity and our part
           in  creation,  but it is the part which has  survived.  The  Tree
           continues  to  be used in the Twentieth Century  because  it  has
           proved  to be a useful and productive symbol for practices  of  a
           magical,  mystical and religious nature.  Modern Kabbalah in  the
           Western   Mystery  Tradition  is  largely  concerned   with   the
           understanding and practical application of the Tree of Life,  and
           the following set of notes will list some of the  characteristics
           of each sephira in more detail so that you will have a "snapshot"
           of  what each sephira represents before going on to  examine  the
           sephiroth and the "deep structure" of the Tree in more detail.

           Chapter 2.: Sephirothic Correspondences

                The correspondences are a set of symbols,  associations  and
           qualities  which  provide  a handle on the  elusive  something  a
           sephira represents.  Some of the correspondences are hundreds  of
           years old, many were concocted this century, and some are my own;
           some  fit very well,  and some are obscure - oddly enough  it  is
           often  the most obscure and ill-fitting correspondence  which  is
           most  productive;  like a Zen riddle it perplexes and annoys  the
           mind  until  it arrives at the right place more in spite  of  the
           correspondence than because of it.
                There  are  few  canonical  correspondences;   some  of  the
           sephiroth  have  alternative  names,   some  of  the  names  have
           alternative  translations,  the mapping from Hebrew spellings  to
           the  English  alphabet varies from one author to  the  next,  and
           inaccuracies  and  accretions  are handed down  like  the  family
           silver. I keep my Hebrew dictionary to hand but guarantee none of
           the English spellings.
                The correspondences I have given are as follows:

                1.  The  Meaning is a translation of the Hebrew name of  the

                2.  The  Planet in most cases is the planet associated  with
                    the  sephira.  In some cases it is not a planet  at  all
                    (e.g.   the  fixed  stars).   The  planets  are  ordered
                    by   decreasing   apparent   motion  -   this   is   one
                    correspondence which appears to pre-date Copernicus!

                3.  The Element is the physical element (earth,  water, air,
                    fire,  aethyr) which has most in common with the  nature
                    of  the Sephira.  The Golden Dawn applied an  excess  of
                    logic to these attributions and made a mess of them,  to
                    the  confusion  of  many.   Only  the  five  Lower  Face
                    sephiroth have been attributed an element.

                4.  Briatic  color.  This is the color of the  sephira  as
                    seen in the world of Creation,  Briah.  There are color
                    scales  for the other three worlds but I  haven't  found
                    them to be useful in practical work.

                5.  Magical Image. Useful in meditations; some are astute.

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                6.  The  Briatic Correspondence is an abstract  quality
                    which  says something about the essence of the  way  the
                    sephira expresses itself.

                7.  The  Illusion characterizes the way in which the  energy
                    of the sephira clouds one's judgement;  it is  something
                    which is *obviously* true.  Most people suffer from  one
                    or more of these according to their temperament.

                8.  The  Obligation is a personal quality which is  demanded
                    of an initiate at this level.

                9.  The  Virtue and Vice are the energy of the sephiroth  as
                    it  manifests  in a positive and negative sense  in  the

                10. Klippoth  is a word which means  "shell".  In  medieval
                    Kabbalah  each sephira was "seen" to be adding  form  to
                    the  sephira  which preceded it in the  Lightning  Flash
                    (see Chapter 3.). Form was seen to an accretion, a shell
                    around  the pure divine energy of the Godhead,  and each
                    layer  or  shell hid the divine radiance  a  little  bit
                    more, until God was buried in form and exiled in matter,
                    the end-point of the process.  At the time attitudes  to
                    matter  were  tainted  with the  Manichean  notion  that
                    matter   was  evil,   a  snare  for  the   spirit,   and
                    consequently the Klippoth or shells were "demonised" and
                    actually turned into demons.  The correspondence I  have
                    given  here restores the original notion of a  shell  of
                    form  *without* the corresponding force to activate  it;
                    it  is the lifeless,  empty husk of a sephira devoid  of
                    force,  and while it isn't a literal demon, it is hardly
                    a bundle of laughs when you come across it.

                11. The  Command  refers to the Four Powers of  the  Sphinx,
                    with an extra one added for good measure.

                12. The Spiritual Experience is just that.

                13. The Titles are a collection of alternative names for the
                    sephira; most are very old.

                14. The  God  Name  is a key to invoking the  power  of  the
                    sephira in the world of emanation, Atziluth.

                13. The Archangel mediates the energy of the sephira in  the
                    world of creation, Briah.

                14. The Angel Order administers the energy of the sephira in
                    the world of formation, Yetzirah.

                15. The Keywords are a collection of phrases which summarize
                    key aspects of the sephira.

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


           Sephira: Malkuth                   Meaning: Kingdom
           -------                            -------
           Planet: Cholem Yesodeth            Element: earth
           --------(the Breaker of            -------
                    the Foundations, sphere of the elements, the Earth)

           Briatic Color: brown              Number: 10
           ------------- (citrine, russet-red,------
                          olive green, black)

           Magical Image: a young woman crowned and throned
           Briatic Correspondence: stability
           Illusion: materialism              Obligation: discipline
           --------                           ----------
           Virtue: discrimination             Vice: avarice & inertia
           ------                             ----
           Klippoth: stasis                   Command: keep silent
           --------                           -------
           Spiritual Experience: Vision of the Holy Guardian Angel
           Titles:  The Gate; Gate of Death; Gate of Tears; Gate of Justice;
           ------   The Inferior Mother;  Malkah,  the  Queen;  Kallah,  the
                    Bride; the Virgin.
           God Name: Adonai ha Aretz          Archangel: Sandalphon
           --------  Adonai Malekh            ---------
           Angel Order: Ishim
           Keywords:the  real world,  physical  matter,  the  Earth,  Mother
                    Earth,  the physical elements, the natural world, sticks
                    & stones,  possessions,  faeces, practicality, solidity,
                    stability, inertia, heaviness, bodily death, incarnation.

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


           Sephira: Yesod                     Meaning: Foundation
           -------                            -------
           Planet: Levanah (the Moon)         Element: Aethyr
           --------------                     -------
           Briatic Color: purple             Number: 9
           -------------                      ------

           Magical Image: a beautiful man, very strong (e.g. Atlas)
           Briatic Correspondence: receptivity, perception
           Illusion: security                 Obligation: trust
           --------                           ----------
           Virtue: independence               Vice: idleness
           ------                             ----
           Klippoth: zombieism, robotism      Command: go!
           --------                           -------
           Spiritual Experience: Vision of the Machinery of the Universe
           Titles: The Treasure House of Images
           God Name: Shaddai el Chai          Archangel: Gabriel
           --------                           ---------
           Angel Order: Cherubim
           Keywords: perception, interface, imagination, image, appearance,
                     glamour, the Moon, the unconscious, instinct, tides,
                     illusion, hidden infrastructure, dreams, divination,
                     anything as it seems to be and not as it is, mirrors
                     and crystals, the "Astral Plane", Aethyr, glue,
                     tunnels, sex & reproduction, the genitals, cosmetics,
                     instinctive magic (psychism), secret doors, shamanic

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           Sephira: Hod                       Meaning: Glory, Splendor
           -------                            -------
           Planet: Kokab (Mercury)            Element: air
           ------                             -------
           Briatic Color: orange             Number: 8
           -------------                      ------
           Magical Image: an hermaphrodite
           Briatic Correspondence: abstraction
           Illusion: order                    Obligation: learn
           --------                           ----------
           Virtue: honesty, truthfulness      Vice: dishonesty
           ------                             ----
           Klippoth: rigidity                 Command: will
           Spiritual Experience: Vision of Splendor
           Titles: -
           God Name: Elohim Tzabaoth          Archangel: Raphael
           --------                           ---------
           Angel Order: Beni Elohim

           Keywords: reason, abstraction, communication, conceptualization,
                     logic, the sciences, language, speech, money (as a
                     concept), mathematics, medicine & healing, trickery,
                     writing, media (as communication), pedantry,
                     philosophy, Kabbalah (as an abstract system), protocol,
                     the Law, ownership, territory, theft, "Rights", ritual

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           Sephira: Netzach                   Meaning: Victory, Firmness
           -------                            -------
           Planet: Nogah (Venus)              Element: water
           --------------                     -------
           Briatic Color: green              Number: 7
           -------------                      ------
           Magical Image: a beautiful naked woman
           Briatic Correspondence: nurture
           Illusion: projection               Obligation: responsibility
           --------                           ----------
           Virtue: unselfishness              Vice: selfishness
           ------                             ----
           Klippoth: habit, routine           Command: know
           Spiritual Experience: Vision of Beauty Triumphant
           Titles: -
           God Name: Jehovah Tzabaoth         Archangel: Haniel
           --------                           ---------
           Angel Order: Elohim
           Keywords: passion, pleasure, luxury, sensual beauty, feelings,
                     drives, emotions - love, hate, anger, joy, depression,
                     misery, excitement, desire, lust; nurture, libido,
                     empathy, sympathy, ecstatic magic.

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           Sephira: Tipheret                  Meaning: Beauty
           -------                            -------
           Planet: Shemesh (the Sun)          Element: fire
           --------------                     -------
           Briatic Color: yellow             Number: 6
           -------------                      ------
           Magical Image: a king, a child, a sacrificed god
           Briatic Correspondence: centrality, wholeness
           Illusion: identification           Obligation: integrity
           --------                           ----------
           Virtue: devotion to the Great Work Vice: pride, self-importance
           ------                             ----
           Klippoth: hollowness               Command: dare
           Spiritual Experience: Vision of Harmony

           Titles: Melekh, the King; Zoar Anpin, the lesser countenance, the
           ------  Microprosopus; the Son; Rachamin, charity.

           God Name: Aloah va Daath           Archangel: Michael
           --------                           ---------
           Angel Order: Malachim
           Keywords: harmony, integrity, balance, wholeness, the Self, self-
                     importance, self-sacrifice, the Son of God, centrality,
                     the Philospher's Stone, identity, the solar plexus,
                     a King, the Great Work.

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           Sephira: Gevurah                   Meaning: Strength
           -------                            -------
           Planet: Madim (Mars)
           Briatic Color: red                Number: 5
           -------------                      ------
           Magical Image: a mighty warrior
           Briatic Correspondence: power
           Illusion: invincibility            Obligation: courage & loyalty
           --------                           ----------
           Virtue: courage & energy           Vice: cruelty
           ------                             ----
           Klippoth: bureaucracy
           Spiritual Experience: Vision of Power
           Titles: Pachad, fear; Din, justice.
           God Name: Elohim Gevor             Archangel: Kamael
           --------                           ---------
           Angel Order: Seraphim
           Keywords: power, justice, retribution (eaten cold), the Law (in
                     execution), cruelty, oppression, domination & the Power
                     Myth, severity, necessary destruction, catabolism,
                     martial arts.

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           Sephira: Chesed                    Meaning: Mercy
           -------                            -------
           Planet: Tzadekh (Jupiter)
           Briatic Color: blue               Number: 4
           -------------                      ------
           Magical Image: a mighty king
           Briatic Correspondence: authority
           Illusion: being right              Obligation: humility
           --------  (self-righteousness)     ----------

           Virtue: humility & obedience       Vice: tyranny, hypocrisy,
           ------                             ----  bigotry, gluttony
           Klippoth: ideology
           Spiritual Experience: Vision of Love
           Titles: Gedulah, magnificence, love, majesty
           God Name: El                       Archangel: Tzadkiel
           --------                           ---------
           Angel Order: Chasmalim
           Keywords: authority, creativity, inspiration, vision, leadership,
                     excess, waste, secular and spiritual power, submission
                     and the Annihilation Myth, the atom bomb, obliteration,
                     birth, service.

           Non-Sephira: Daath                 Meaning: Knowledge
           -----------                        -------
           Daath has no manifest qualities and cannot be invoked directly.

           Keywords: hole, tunnel, gateway, doorway, black hole, vortex.

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           Sephira: Binah                     Meaning: Understanding,
           -------                            -------
           Planet: Shabbathai (Saturn)
           Briatic Color: black              Number: 3
           -------------                      ------
           Magical Image: an old woman on a throne
           Briatic Correspondence: comprehension
           Illusion: death
           Virtue: silence                    Vice: inertia
           ------                             ----
           Klippoth: fatalism
           Spiritual Experience: Vision of Sorrow
           Titles:   Aima, the Mother; Ama, the Crone; Marah, the bitter
                     sea; Khorsia, the Throne; the Fifty Gates of
                     Understanding; Intelligence; the Mother of Form; the
                     Superior Mother.

           God Name: Elohim                   Archangel: Cassiel
           --------                           ---------
           Angel Order: Aralim
           Keywords: limitation, form, constraint, heaviness, slowness, old-
                     age, infertility, incarnation, karma, fate, time,
                     space, natural law, the womb and gestation, darkness,
                     boundedness, enclosure, containment, fertility, mother,
                     weaving and spinning, death (annihilation).

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           Sephira: Chokhmah                  Meaning: Wisdom
           -------                            -------
           Planet: Mazlot (the Zodiac, the fixed stars)
           Briatic Color: silver/white       Number: 2
           -------------   grey               ------

           Magical Image: a bearded man
           Briatic Correspondence: revolution
           Illusion: independence
           Virtue: good                       Vice: evil
           ------                             ----
           Klippoth: arbitrariness
           Spiritual Experience: Vision of God face-to-face
           Titles: Abba, the Father. The Supernal Father.
           God Name: Jah                      Archangel: Ratziel
           --------                           ---------
           Angel Order: Auphanim
           Keywords: pure creative energy, lifeforce, the wellspring.

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           Sephira: Kether                    Meaning: Crown
           -------                            -------
           Planet: Rashith ha Gilgalim (first swirlings, the Big Bang)
           Briatic Color: pure white         Number: 1
           -------------                      ------
           Magical Image: a bearded man seen in profile
           Briatic Correspondence: unity
           Illusion: attainment
           Virtue: attainment                 Vice: ---
           ------                             ----
           Klippoth: futility
           Spiritual Experience: Union with God
           Titles:   Ancient of Days, the Greater Countenance
                     (Macroprosopus), the White Head, Concealed of the
                     Concealed, Existence of Existences, the Smooth Point,
                     Rum Maalah, the Highest Point.

           God Name: Eheieh                   Archangel: Metatron
           --------                           ---------
           Angel Order: Chaioth ha Qadesh
           Keywords: unity, union, all, pure consciousness, God, the
                     Godhead, manifestation, beginning, source, emanation.

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           Chapter 3: The Pillars & the Lightning Flash

                In  Chapter  1.  the  Tree of Life was  derived  from  three
           concepts,  or  rather  one  primary concept  and  two  derivative
           concepts which are "contained" within it. The primary concept was
           called consciousness,  and it was said to "contain" within it the
           two complementary concepts of force and form. This chapter builds
           on  the idea by introducing the three Pillars of  the  Tree,  and
           uses the Pillars to clarify a process called the Lightning Flash.
                The Three Pillars are shown in Figure 8. below.

                          Pillar      Pillar       Pillar
                            of          of           of
                           Form    Consciousness   Force
                        (Severity)  (Mildness)    (Mercy)

                                  /   (Crown)    

                                 /       |        

                                /        |         

                               /         |          

                           Binah         |        Chokhmah
                       (Understanding)__________  (Wisdom)
                        (Intelligence)   |           |
                             |           |          /|
                             |         Daath       / |
                             |      (Knowledge)   /  |
                             |           |       /   |
                          Gevurah        |      /  Chesed
                         (Strength)______|_____/__ (Mercy)
                             |           |    /    (Love)
                             |           |   /     / |
                             |           |  /     /  |
                             |       Tipheret    /   |
                             |   /   (Beauty)        |
                             |  /        |           |
                             | /         |           |
                             |/          |          ||
                            Hod          |        Netzach
                          (Glory) _______________(Victory)
                         (Splendor)     |       (Firmness)
                                         |           / /
                                         |          / /
                                         |         / /
                                         |        /  /
                                       Yesod     /  /
                                    (Foundation)   /
                                         |       /
                                         |      /
                                         |     /

                                      Figure 8

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           Not surprisingly the three pillars are referred to as the pillars
           of  consciousness,  force and form.  The pillar of  consciousness
           contains the sephiroth Kether,  Tiphereth, Yesod and Malkuth; the
           pillar  of  force contains the  sephiroth  Chokhmah,  Chesed  and
           Netzach; the pillar of form contains the sephiroth Binah, Gevurah
           and Hod.  In older Cabalistic texts the pillars are referred  to
           as  the pillars of mildness,  mercy and severity,  and it is  not
           immediately obvious how the older jargon relates to the  new.  To
           the  medieval Kabbalist (and this is a recurring metaphor in  the
           Zohar)  the  creation  as  an emanation  of  God  is  a  delicate
           *balance* (metheqela) between two opposing tendencies:  the mercy
           of  God,  the outflowing,  creative,  life-giving and  sustaining
           tendency in God, and the severity or strict judgement of God, the
           limiting,   defining,  life-taking  and  ultimately  wrathful  or
           destructive tendency in God. The creation is "energized" by these
           two tendencies as if stretched between the poles of a battery.

               Modern  Kabbalah makes a half-hearted attempt to remove  the
           more  obvious  anthropomorphisms in the  descriptions  of  "God";
           mercy and severity are misleading terms,  apt to remind one of  a
           man with a white beard,  and even in medieval times the terms had
           distinctly  technical meanings as the following  quotation  shows

                "It must be remembered that to the Kabbalist, judgement [Din
                - judgement,  another title of Gevurah] means the imposition
                of limits and the correct determination of things. According
                to  Cordovero  the  quality  of  judgement  is  inherent  in
                everything  insofar as everything wishes to remain  what  it
                is, to stay within its boundaries."

                      I understand the word "form" inprecisely this sense - itis
          that which  defines *what* a thing is,  the structure whereby a  given
          thing is distinct from every other thing.

                As for "consciousness",  I use the word "consciousness" in a
           sense so abstract that it is virtually meaningless, and according
           to whim I use the word God instead,  where it is understood  that
           both  words are placeholders for something which  is  potentially
           knowable  in  the  gnostic  sense only  -  consciousness  can  be
           *defined* according to the *forms* it takes, in which case we are
           defining   the  forms,   *not*  the   consciousness.   The   same
           qualification applies to the word "force". My inability to define
           two  of  the three concepts which underpin the structure  of  the
           Tree  is a nuisance which is tackled traditionally by the use  of
           extravagant  metaphors,   and  by  elimination  ("not  this,  not

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                The classification of sephiroth into three pillars is a  way
           of  saying  that each sephira in a pillar partakes  of  a  common
           quality  which is "inherited" in a progressively  more  developed
           and  structured form from of the top of a pillar to  the  bottom.
           Tipheret,  Yesod and Malkuth all share with Kether the quality of
           "consciousness in balance" or "synthesis of opposing  qualities",
           or but in each case it is expressed differently according to  the
           increased degree of structure imposed. Likewise, Chokhmah, Chesed
           and   Netzach   share  the  quality  of  force   or   energy   or
           expansiveness,  and Binah,  Gevurah and Hod share the quality  of
           form,  definition  and limitation.  From Kether down to  Malkuth,
           force  and  form  are combined;  the symbolism of  the  Tree  has
           something  in common with a production line,  with  molten  metal
           coming  in one end and finished cars coming out  the  other,  and
           with  that  metaphor we are now ready to describe  the  Lightning
           Flash,  the process whereby God takes on flesh, the process which
           created and sustains the creation.

                In  the beginning...was Something.  Or Nothing.  It  doesn't
           really matter which term we use,  as both are equally meaningless
           in this context. Nothing is probably the better of the two terms,
           because  I can use Something in the  next  paragraph.  Kabbalists
           call  this  Nothing "En Soph" which literally means "no  end"  or
           infinity,  and  understand by this a hidden,  unmanifest  God-in-

                Out of this incomprehensible and indescribable Nothing  came
           Something.  Probably more words have been devoted to this  moment
           than  any other in Kabbalah,  and it is all too easy to make  fun
           the effort which has gone into elaborating the indescribable,  so
           I  won't,   but  in  return  do  not  expect  me  to  provide   a
           justification for why Something came out of Nothing. It just did.
           A  point  crystallized in the En Soph.  In some versions  of  the
           story  the En Soph "contracted" to "make room" for  the  creation
           (Isaac  Luria's  theory of Tsimtsum),  and this  is  probably  an
           important clarification for those who have rubbed noses with  the
           hidden  face of God,  but for the purposes of these notes  it  is
           enough  that a point crystallized.  This point was the  crown  of
           creation, the sephira Kether, and within Kether was contained all
           the unrealized potential of the creation.

                An  aspect of Kether is the raw creative force of God  which
           blasts into the creation like the blast of hot gas which keeps  a
           hot air balloon in the air. Kabbalists are quite clear about this;
           the creation didn't just happen a long time ago - it is happening
           all  the time,  and without the force to sustain it the  creation
           would crumple like a balloon. The force-like aspect within Kether
           is  the sephira Chokhmah and it can be thought of as the will  of
           God,  because  without it the creation would cease to  *be*.  The
           whole of creation is maintained by this ravening, primeval desire
           to  *be*,  to  become,  to  exist,  to  change,  to  evolve.  The
           experiential distinction between Kether,  the point of emanation,
           and Chokhmah,  the creative outpouring,  is elusive,  but some of
           the  difference  is  captured  in  the  phrases  "I  am"  and  "I

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                Force by itself achieves nothing;  it needs to be contained,
           and the balloon analogy is appropriate again.  Chokhmah  contains
           within it the necessity of Binah,  the Mother of Form. The person
           who  taught  me Kabbalah (a woman) told me  Chokhmah  (Abba,  the
           Father) was God's prick,  and Binah (Aima,  the mother) was God's
           womb,   and  left  me  with  the  picture  of  one  half  of  God
           continuously ejaculating into the other half.  The author of  the
           Zohar  also makes frequent use of sexual polarity as  a  metaphor
           to describe the relationship between force and form, or mercy and
           severity  (although the most vivid sexual metaphors are used  for
           the  marriage of the Microprosopus and his bride,  the Queen  and
           Inferior Mother, the sephira Malkuth).
                The sephira Binah is the Mother of Form;  form exists within
           Binah  as a potentiality,  not as an actuality,  just as  a  womb
           contains  the  potential of a baby.  Without the  possibility  of
           form,  no thing would be distinct from any other thing;  it would
           be impossible to distinguish between things,  impossible to  have
           individuality  or  identity  or  change.   The  Mother  of   Form
           contains the potential of form within her womb and gives birth to
           form  when a creative impulse crosses the Abyss to the Pillar  of
           Force and emanates through the sephira Chesed.  Again we have the
           idea of "becoming", of outflowing creative energy, but at a lower
           level.  The  sephira  Chesed is the point at which  form  becomes
           perceptible  to the mind as an inspiration,  an idea,  a  vision,
           that  "Eureka!"  moment  immediately  prior  to  rushing   around
           shouting  "I've got it!  I've got it!" Chesed is that quality  of
           genuine  inspiration,   a  sense  of  being  "plugged  in"  which
           characterizes  the  visionary leaders who drive  the  human  race
           onwards into every new kind of endeavour.  It can be for good  or
           evil; a leader who can tap the petty malice and vindictiveness in
           any  person  and  channel it into a vision of  a  new  order  and
           genocide  is  just  as much a visionary as  any  other,  but  the
           positive  side  of Chesed is the humanitarian leader  who  brings
           about genuine improvements to our common life.

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                No  change  comes easy;  as Cordova points  out  "everything
           wishes to remain what it is". The creation of form is balanced in
           the sephira Gevurah by the preservation and destruction of  form.
           Any impulse of change is channelled through Gevurah, and if it is
           not  resisted then something will be destroyed.  If you  want  to
           make  paper you cut down a tree.  If you want to abolish  slavery
           you have to destroy the culture which perpetuates it. If you want
           to  change  someone's  mind you have  to  destroy  that  person's
           beliefs about the matter in question.  The sephira Gevurah is the
           quality  of strict judgement which opposes change,  destroys  the
           unfamiliar,  and  corresponds  in many ways to an  immune  system
           within the body of God.

                There has to be a balance between creation and  destruction.
           Too much change,  too many ideas,  too many things happening  too
           quickly  can have the quality of chaos (and can literally  become
           that), whereas too little change, no new ideas, too much form and
           structure and protocol can suffocate and stifle.  There has to be
           a  balance  which  "makes sense" and this "idea  of  balance"  or
           "making  sense" is expressed in the sephira Tiphereth.  It is  an
           instinctive  morality,  and  it isn't present by default  in  the
           human species.  It isn't based on cultural norms; it doesn't have
           its roots in upbringing (although it is easily destroyed by  it).
           Some people have it in a large measure,  and some people are  (to
           all  intents and purposes) completely lacking in it.  It  doesn't
           necessarily  respect conventional morality:  it may laugh in  its
           face.  I  can't  say  what it is in any  detail,  because  it  is
           peculiar  and individual,  but those who have it have  a  natural
           quality   of integrity,  soundness of judgement,  an  instinctive
           sense of rightness,  justice and compassion, and a willingness to
           fight or suffer in defense of that sense of justice. Tiphereth is
           a  paradoxical  sephira because in many people it is  simply  not
           there.  It  can  be developed,  and that is one of the  goals  of
           initiation,  but for many people Tiphereth is a room with nothing
           in it.

                Having  passed through Gevurah on the Pillar  of  Form,  and
           found its way through the moral filter of Tiphereth,  a  creative
           impulse picks up energy once more on the Pillar of Force via  the
           Sephira Netzach,  where the energy of "becoming" finds its  final
           expression  in  the form of "vital urges".  Why do  we  carry  on
           living?  Why bother?  What is it that compels us to do things? An
           artist  may have a vision of a piece of art,  but  what  actually
           compels the artist to paint or sculpt or write? Why do we want to
           compete  and  win?  Why do we care what happens  to  others?  The
           sephira  Netzach  expresses the basic vital creative urges  in  a
           form we can recognize as drives,  feelings and emotions.  Netzach
           is pre-verbal; ask a child why he wants a toy and the answer will
            be  "I just do".  "But why," you ask,  wondering why he doesn't want
          the  much more  "sensible" toy you  had in mind.  "Why don't you  want
          this one here."
                "I just don't. I want this one."
                "But what's so good about that one."
                "I don't know what to say...I just like it."

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           This  conversation  is  not fictitious  and  is  quintessentially
           Netzach.  The structure of the Tree of Life posits that the basic
           driving  forces which characterize our behavior  are  pre-verbal
           and non-rational; anyone who has tried to change another person's
           basic  nature or beliefs through force of rational argument  will
           know this.
               After  Netzach we go to the sephira Hod to pick up our  last
           cargo of Form.  Ask a child why they want something and they  say
           "I  just  do".  Press  an adult and you will  get  an  earful  of
           "reasons".  We  live  in a culture where it is  important  (often
           essential) to give reasons for the things we do,  and Hod is  the
           sephira  of form where it is possible to give shape to our  wants
           in  terms  of reasons and explanations.  Hod is  the  sephira  of
           abstraction,  reason,  logic,  language and communication,  and a
           reflection  of the Mother of Form in the human mind.  We  have  a
           innate  capacity  to  abstract,   to  go  immediately  from   the
           particular  to  the general,  and we have an innate  capacity  to
           communicate these abstractions using language,  and it should  be
           clear    why   the   alternative   translation   of   Binah    is
           "intelligence";  Binah  is  the "intelligence of  God",  and  Hod
           underpins what we generally recognize as intelligence in people -
           the ability to grasp complex abstractions, reason about them, and
           articulate this understanding using some means of communication.

                The   synthesis  of  Hod  and  Netzach  on  the  Pillar   of
           Consciousness  is  the sephira Yesod.  Yesod is  the  sephira  of
           interface, and the comparison with computer peripheral interfaces
           is an excellent one. Yesod is sometimes called "the Receptacle of
           the  Emanations",  and it interfaces the emanations of all  three
           pillars to the sephira Malkuth,  and it is through Yesod that the
           final abstract form of something is realized in matter.  Form  in
           Yesod  is  no  longer abstract;  it  is  explicit,  but  not  yet
           individual  -  that last quality is reserved for  Malkuth  alone.
           Yesod  is  like  the mold in a bottle factory -  the  mold  is  a
           realization  of  the  abstract  idea "bottle" in  so  far  as  it
           expresses  the  shape  of a particular  bottle  design  in  every
           detail, but it is not itself an individual bottle.
                The final step in the process is the sephira Malkuth,  where
           God  becomes  flesh,  and  every abstract  form  is  realized  in
           actuality,  in the "real world". There is much to say about this,
           but I will keep it for later.

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                The process I have described is called the Lightning  Flash.
           The Lightning Flash runs as  follows:  Kether,  Chokhmah,  Binah,
           Chesed,  Gevurah, Tiphereth, Netzach, Hod, Yesod, Malkuth, and if
           you  trace the Lightning Flash on a diagram of the Tree  you  will
           see  that  it has the zig-zag shape of  a  lightning  flash.  The
           sephiroth are numbered according to their order on the  lightning
           flash:  Kether  is  1,  Chokhmah is 2,  and so  on.  The  "Sepher
           Yetzirah" [2] has this to say about the sephiroth:

                "When  you think of the ten sephiroth cover your  heart  and
                seal  the  desire of your lips to announce  their  divinity.
                Yoke your mind.  Should it escape your grasp,  reach out and
                bring it back under your control.  As it was said,  'And the
                living  creatures  ran and returned as the appearance  of  a
                flash  of  lightning,'  in such a manner  was  the  Covenant

           The  quotation within the quotation comes from  Ezekiel  1.14,  a
           text   which  inspired  a  large  amount  of  early   Cabalistic
           speculation,  and  it  is probable that the  Lightning  Flash  as
           described  is  one  of the earliest components  of  the  idea  of
           sephirothic emanation.
                The   Lightning  Flash  describes  the   creative   process,
           beginning with the unknown, unmanifest hidden God, and follows it
           through ten distinct stages to a change in the material world. It
           can be used to describe *any* change - lighting a match,  picking
           your  nose,  walking the dog - and novices are  usually  set  the
           exercise   of analyzing any arbitrarily chosen event in terms  of
           the Lightning Flash.  Because the Lightning Flash can be used  to
           understand  the inner process whereby the material world  of  the
           senses  changes  and evolves,  it is a key to  practical  magical
           work,  and because it is intended to account for *all* change  it
           follows that all change is equally magical,  and the word "magic"
           is   essentially   meaningless  (but  nevertheless   useful   for
           distinguishing   between  "normal"  and  "abnormal"   states   of
           consciousness, and the modes of causality which pertain to each).

                It also follows that the key to understanding our "spiritual
           nature"  does  not belong in the  spiritual  empyrean,  where  it
           remains  inaccessible,  but in *all* the routine  and  unexciting
           little  things  in life.  Everything is  equally  "spiritual",
           equally  "divine",  and there is more to be learned from  picking
           one's nose than there is in a spiritual discipline which puts you
           "here" and God "over there". The Lightning Flash ends in Malkuth,
           and it can be followed like a thread through the hidden  pathways
           of  creation  until  one arrives back at  the  source.  The  next
           chapter  will  retrace  the  Lightning  Flash  by  examining  the
           qualities of each sephira in more detail.

           [1]  Scholem,  Gershom  G.  "Major Trends in  Jewish  Mysticism",
                                       Schoken Books 1974

           [2]  Westcott, W. Wynn, ed. "Sepher Yetzirah". Many reprintings.

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


           Chapter 4: The Sephiroth
                This  chapter  provides a detailed look at each of  the  ten
           sephiroth  and  draws together material scattered  over  previous

                Malkuth  is  the  Cinderella of the  sephiroth.  It  is  the
           sephira most often ignored by beginners,  the sephira most  often
           glossed  over in Cabalistic texts,  and it is not only the  most
           immediate of the sephira but it is also the most complex, and for
           sheer  inscrutability  it  rivals Kether -  indeed,  there  is  a
           Cabalistic aphorism that "Kether is in Malkuth,  and Malkuth  is
           in Kether, but after another manner".

                The  word Malkuth means "Kingdom",  and the sephira  is  the
           culmination of a process of emanation whereby the creative  power
           of  the  Godhead is progressively structured and  defined  as  it
           moves  down the Tree and arrives in a completed form in  Malkuth.
           Malkuth is the  sphere of matter,  substance,  the real, physical
           world.   In  the  least  compromising  versions  of   materialist
           philosophy (e.g. Hobbes) there is nothing beyond physical matter,
           and from that viewpoint the Tree of Life beyond Malkuth does  not
           exist:  our  feelings  of  identity  and  self-consciousness  are
           nothing  more  than  a by-product of chemical  reactions  in  the
           brain,  and the mind is a complex automata which suffers from the
           disease   of  metaphysical  delusions.   Kabbalah  is   *not*   a
           materialist  model  of reality,  but when we examine  Malkuth  by
           itself we find ourselves immersed in matter, and it is natural to
           think in terms of physics,   chemistry and molecular biology. The
           natural  sciences provide the most accurate models of matter  and
           the physical world that we have,  and it would be foolishness  of
           the  first  order  to imagine that Kabbalah  can  provide  better
           explanations  of the nature of matter on the basis of a study  of
           the  text  of  the  Old Testament.  Not  that  I  under-rate  the
           intuition  which  has gone into the making of Kabbalah  over  the
           centuries,  but  for  practical purposes the  average  university
           science  graduate knows (much) more about the material  stuff  of
           the  world than medieval Kabbalists,  and a grounding  in  modern
           physics is as good a way to approach Malkuth as any other.

                For  those  who are not comfortable with physics  there  are
           alternative,  more traditional ways of approaching  Malkuth.  The
           magical  image  of Malkuth is that of a young woman  crowned  and
           throned.  The woman is Malkah,  the Queen, Kallah, the Bride. She
           is  the  inferior mother,  a reflection and  realization  of  the
           superior mother Binah. She is the Queen who inhabits the Kingdom,
           and the Bride of the Microprosopus.  She is Gaia,  Mother  Earth,
           but of course she is not only the substance of this world; she is
           the body of the entire physical universe.

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


                Some care is required when assigning Mother/Earth  goddesses
           to Malkuth,  because some of them correspond more closely to  the
           superior  mother  Binah.  There is a close  and  deep  connection
           between  Malkuth  and Binah which results in  the  two  sephiroth
           sharing   similar  correspondences,   and  one  of   the   oldest
           Cabalistic texts [1] has this to say about Malkuth:

                "The  title of the tenth path [Malkuth] is  the  Resplendent
                Intelligence.  It is called this because it is exalted above
                every head from where it sits upon the throne of  Binah.  It
                illuminates  the  numinosity  of all lights  and  causes  to
                emanate  the  Power  of the  archetype  of  countenances  or

           One of the titles of Binah is Khorsia,  or Throne,  and the image
           which  this  text provides is that Binah provides  the  framework
           upon  which Malkuth sits.  We will return to  this  later.  Binah
           contains the potential of form in the abstract,  while Malkuth is
           is the fullest realization of form,  and both sephiroth share the
           correspondences of heaviness,  limitation,  finiteness,  inertia,
           avarice, silence, and death.

                The  female quality of Malkuth is often identified with  the
           Shekhinah,  the  female  spirit  of  God  in  the  creation,  and
           Cabalistic literature makes much of the (carnal) relationship of
           God and the Shekhinah.  Waite [7] mentions that the  relationship
           between God and Shekhinah is mirrored in the relationship between
           man and woman,  and provides a great deal of information on  both
           the  Shekhinah and what he quaintly calls "The Mystery  of  Sex".
           After  the  exile  of the Jews from  Spain  in  1492,  Kabbalists
           identified their own plight with the fate of the  Shekhinah,  and
           she  is pictured as being cast out into matter in much  the  same
           way as the Gnostics pictured Sophia,  the outcast divine  wisdom.
           The doctrine of the Shekhinah within Kabbalah and within  Judaism
           as a whole is complex and it is something I don't feel  competent
           to  comment further on;  more information can be found in  [3]  &

                Malkuth   is  the  sphere  of  the  physical  elements   and
           Kabbalists  still  use the four-fold scheme which dates  back  at
           least  as  far  as Empedocles and  probably  the  Ark.  The  four
           elements correspond to four readily-observable states of matter:

                         solid     -     earth
                         liquid    -     water
                         gas       -     air
                         plasma    -     fire/electric arc (lightning)

           In  addition  it is not uncommon to include a  fifth  element  so
           rarified  and arcane that most people (self included) are  pushed
           to say what it is;  the fifth element is aethyr (or ether) and is
           sometimes called spirit.

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


                The  amount  of  material  written  about  the  elements  is
           enormous,  and  rather than reproduce in bulk what is  relatively
           well-known  I will provide a rough outline so that those  readers
           who aren't familiar with Kabbalah will realize I am talking about
           approximately the same thing as they have seen before. A detailed
           description of the traditional medieval view of the four elements
           can  be  found in "The Magus" [2].  The  hierarchy  of  elemental
           powers can be found in "777" [4] and in Golden Dawn material  [5]
           - I have summarized a few useful items below:

                Element        Fire          Air       Water       Earth

                God Name       Elohim        Jehovah   Eheieh      Agla

                Archangel      Michael       Raphael   Gabriel     Uriel

                King           Djin          Paralda   Nichsa      Ghob

                Elemental      Salamanders   Sylphs    Undines     Gnomes

           It amused me to notice that the section on the elemental kingdoms
           in Farrar's "What Witches Do" [6] had been taken by Alex Saunders
           lock,  stock  and  barrel  from traditional  Cabalistic  and  CM

                The elements in Malkuth are arranged as follows:


                        East          Zenith Aethyr+    West
                        Air           Nadir  Aethyr-    Water


           I have rotated the cardinal points through 180 degrees from their
           customary directions so that it is easier to see how the elements
           fit on the lower face of the Tree of Life:


                        Hod           Yesod          Netzach
                        Air           Aethyr          Water


                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


           It  is important to distinguish between the elements in  Malkuth,
           where  we  are talking about real substance (the  water  in  your
           body,  the breath in your lungs),  and the elements on the  Tree,
           where we are using traditional correspondences *associated*  with
           the elements, e.g.:

                Earth: solid, stable, practical, down-to-earth

                Water: sensitive, intuitive, emotional, caring, fertile

                Air: vocal, communicative, intellectual

                Fire: energetic, daring, impetuous

                Positive Aethyr: glue, binding, plastic

                Negative Aethyr: unbinding, dissolution, disintegration

           Aethyr or Spirit is enigmatic, and I tend to think of it in terms
           of the forces which bind matter together.  It is almost certainly
           a coincidence (but nevertheless interesting) that there are  four
           fundamental forces - gravitational, electromagnetic, weak nuclear
           & strong nuclear - known to date, and current belief is that they
           can  be unified into one fundamental force.  On a  slightly  more
           arcane tack, Barret [2] has this to say about Aethyr:

                "Now   seeing   that  the  soul  is  the   essential   form,
                intelligible  and incorruptible,  and is the first mover  of
                the body, and is moved itself; but that the body, or matter,
                is of itself unable and unfit for motion, and does very much
                degenerate from the soul, it appears that there is a need of
                a more excellent medium:- now such a medium is conceived  to
                be  the  spirit  of the world,  or that which  some  call  a
                quintessence;  because it is not from the four elements, but
                a  certain first thing,  having its being above  and  beside
                them. There is, therefore, such a kind of medium required to
                be,  by which celestial souls [e.g.  forms] may be joined to
                gross  bodies,  and bestow upon them wonderful  gifts.  This
                spirit is in the same manner,  in the body of the world,  as
                our spirit is in our bodies;  for as the powers of our  soul
                are communicated to the members of the body by the medium of
                the spirit,  so also the virtue of the soul of the world  is
                diffused,  throughout  all  things,  by the  medium  of  the
                universal  spirit;  for there is nothing to be found in  the
                whole world that hath not a spark of the virtue thereof."

           Aethyr   underpins  the  elements  like  a  foundation  and   its
           attribution to Yesod should be obvious,  particularly as it forms
           the  linking  role between the ideoplastic world of  "the  Astral
           Light"  [8] and the material world.  Aethyr is often  thought  to
           come in two flavors - positive Aethyr, which binds, and negative
           Aethyr,  which  unbinds.  Negative  Aethyr  is  a  bit  like  the
           Universal Solvent, and requires as much care in handling ;-}

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


                Working with the physical elements in Malkuth is one of  the
           most  important areas of applied magic,  dealing as it does  with
           the basic constituents of the real world.  The physical  elements
           are  tangible and can be experience in a very direct way  through
           recreations such as caving,  diving,  parachuting or firewalking;
           they bite back in a suitably humbling way,  and they provide  CMs
           with an opportunity to join the neo-pagans in the great outdoors.
           Our bodies themselves are made from physical stuff, and there are
           many Raja Yoga-like exercises which can be carried out using  the
           elements  as a basis for work on the body.  If you can stand  his
           manic intensity (Exercise 1:  boil an egg by force of will)  then
           Bardon [9] is full of good ideas.
                Malkuth is often associated with various kinds of  intrinsic
           evil,  and to understand this attitude (which I do not share)  it
           is necessary to confront the same question as thirteenth  century
           Kabbalists:  can  God be evil?  The answer to this  question  was
           (broadly speaking) "yes",  but Kabbalists have gone through  many
           strange  gyrations  in an attempt to avoid what was for  many  an
           unacceptable conclusion.  It was difficult to accept that famine,
           war, disease, prejudice, hate, death could be a part of a perfect
           being, and there had to be some way to account for evil which did
           not contaminate divine perfection. One approach was to sweep evil
           under  the  carpet,  and  in this case the  carpet  was  Malkuth.
           Malkuth became the habitation for evil spirits.
                If one examines the structure of the Tree without  prejudice
           then  it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that evil is  quite
           adequately  accounted for,  and there is no need to shuffle  evil
           to  the periphery of the Tree like a cleaner without  a  dustpan.
           The  emanation  of  any  sephirah  from  Chokhmah  downwards  can
           manifest as good or evil depending on circumstances and the point
           of view of those affected by the energy involved. This appears to
           have  been  understood  even at the time of the  writing  of  the
           "Zohar", where the mercy of God is constantly contrasted with the
           severity  of God,  and the author makes it clear that one has  to
           balance  the  other  -  you cannot have  the  mercy  without  the
           severity.  On the other hand, the severity of God is persistently
           identified  with  the rigors  of  existence  (form,  finiteness,
           limitation),  and while it is true that many of the things  which
           have  been  identified  with  evil  are  a  consequence  of   the
           finiteness of things, of being finite beings in a world of finite
           resources governed by natural laws with inflexible causality,  it
           not  correct  to  infer  (as  some  have)  that  form  itself  is
           *intrinsically* evil.

               The notion that form and matter are *intrinsically* evil, or
           in  some  way imperfect or not a part of God,  may  have  reached
           Kabbalah  from  a  number  of  sources. Scholem comments:

                "The  Kabbalah  of  the early  thirteenth  century  was  the
                offspring  of  a  union between  an  older  and  essentially
                Gnostic tradition represented by the book "Bahir",  and  the
                comparatively modern element of Jewish Neo-Platonism."

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


           There  is  the possibility that the Kabbalists of  Provence  (who
           wrote  or  edited  the "Sepher Bahir")  were  influenced  by  the
           Cathars,  a  late form of Manicheanism.  Whether the  source  was
           Gnosticism,  Neo-Platonism,  Manicheanism or some combination  of
           all three,  Kabbalah has imported a view of matter and form which
           distorts the view of things portrayed by the Tree of Life, and so
           Malkuth ends up as a kind of cosmic outer darkness, a bin for all
           the  dirt,  detritus,  broken  sephira and dirty hankies  of  the
           creation.  Form is evil,  the Mother of Form is female, women are
           definitely and indubitably evil,  and Malkuth is the most  female
           of the sephira,  therefore Malkuth is most definitely evil...quod
           erat demonstrandum. By the time we reach the time of S.L. Mathers
           and  the  Golden Dawn there is a complete Tree  of  evil  demonic
           Klippoth  *underneath* Malkuth as a reflection of the "good"  Tree
           above it.  I believe this may have something to do with the  fact
           that  meditations  on Malkuth can easily  become  meditations  on
           Binah, and meditations on Binah have a habit of slipping into the
           Abyss,  and once in the Abyss it is easy to trawl up enough  junk
           to "discover" an averse Tree "underneath" Malkuth.  This view  of
           the  Klippoth,  or Shells,  as active,  demonic evil  has  become
           pervasive,  and the more energy people put into the demonic Tree,
           the  less  there is for the original.  Abolish  the  Klippoth  as
           demonic  forces,  and the Tree of Life comes alive with its  full
           power of good *and* evil.  The following quotation from  Bischoff
           [10] (speaking of the Sephiroth) provides a more rational view of
           the Klippoth:

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


                "Since  their energy [of the sephiroth] shows three  degrees
                of  strength  (highest,  middle and  lowest  degree),  their
                emanations group accordingly in sequence. We usually imagine
                the   image  of  a  descending  staircase.   The   Kabbalist
                prefers to  see this fact as a decreasing alienation of  the
                central  primeval  energy.  Consequently  any  less  perfect
                emanation  is  to him the cover or shell  (Klippah)  of  the
                preceding,  and so the last (furthest) emanations being the
                so-called material things are the shell of the total and are
                therefore called (in the actual sense) Klippoth."

           This is my own view;  the shell of something is the accretion  of
           form  which  it accumulates as energy comes  down  the  Lightning
           Flash. If the shell can be considered by itself then it is a dead
           husk  of  something which could be alive - it preserves  all  the
           structure  but there is no energy in it to bring it  alive.  With
           this interpretation the Klippoth are to be found  everywhere:  in
           relationships,  at work, at play, in ritual, in society. Whenever
           something  dies and people refuse to recognize that it  is  dead,
           and cling to the lifeless husk of whatever it was, then you get a
           Klippah.  For this reason one of the vices of Malkuth is Avarice,
           not only in the sense of trying to acquire material  things,  but
           also  in the sense of being unwilling to let go of anything, even
           when it has become dead and worthless.  The Klippah of Malkuth is
           what you would get if the Sun went out:  Stasis, life frozen into

                The  other  vice  of Malkuth is Inertia,  in  the  sense  of
           "active resistance to motion;  sluggish;  disinclined to move  or
           act".  It is visible in most people at one time or  another,  and
           tends  to  manifest  when a  task  is  new,  necessary,  but  not
           particularly exciting, there is no excitement or "natural energy"
           to keep one fired up, and one has to keep on pushing right to the
           finish.  For  this  reason  the obligation  of  Malkuth  is  (has
           to be) self-discipline.

                The  virtue  of Malkuth is Discrimination,  the  ability  to
           perceive  differences.  The ability to perceive differences is  a
           necessity  for any living organism,  whether a bacteria  able  to
           sense  the gradient of a nutrient or a kid working out  how  much
           money  to  wheedle out of his parents.  As Malkuth is  the  final
           realization  of  form,  it is  the sphere where  our  ability  to
           distinguish between differences is most pronounced.  The capacity
           to  discriminate  is  so fundamental to survival  that  it  works
           overtime and finds boundaries and distinctions everywhere - "you"
           and  "me",  "yours" and "mine",  distinctions of  "property"  and
           "value"  and "territory" which are intellectual  abstractions  on
           one  level  (i.e.  not real) and fiercely defended  realities  on
           another  (i.e.  very real indeed).  I am not going to  attempt  a
           definition  of real and unreal,  but it is the case that much  of
           what we think of as real is unreal,  and much of what we think of
           as  unreal  is real,  and we need the same  discrimination  which
           leads  us into the mire to lead us out again.  Some people  think
           skin color is a real measure of intelligence;  some don't.  Some
           people  think gender is a real measure of  ability;  some  don't.
           Some people judge on appearances;  some don't. There is clearly a
           difference between a bottle of beer and a bottle of piss,  but is
           the color of the *bottle* important?  What *is* important?  

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


          What differences are real, what matters?  How much energy do we devote
           to things which are "not real".  Am I able to perceive how much I
           am being manipulated by a fixation on unreality?  Are my goals in
           life "real",  or will they look  increasingly silly and  immature
           as I grow older?  For that matter,  is Kabbalah "real"?  Does  it
           provide  a  useful model of reality,  or is it the remnant  of  a
           world-view which should have been put to rest centuries ago?  One
           of  the  primary  exercises  of an initiate  into  Malkuth  is  a
           thorough examination of the question "What is real?".

                The  Spiritual  Experience  of  Malkuth  is  variously   the
           Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel  (HGA),  or
           the Vision of the HGA (depending on who you believe).  I vote for
           the  Vision  of  the  HGA  in  Malkuth,  and  the  Knowledge  and
           Conversation  in Tiphereth.  What is the HGA?  According  to  the
           Gnosticism  of  Valentinus each person has a guardian  angel  who
           accompanies  that individual throughout their life and reveals  the
           gnosis;  the angel is in a sense the divine Self.  This belief is
           identical  to  what  I was taught by the  person  who  taught  me
           Kabbalah,  so  some  part of Gnosticism  lives  on.  The  current
           tradition concerning the HGA almost certainly entered the Western
           Esoteric Tradition as a consequence of S.L.  Mather's translation
           [11]  of  "The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin  the  Mage",
           which  contains  full details of a lengthy ritual to  attain  the
           Knowledge  and Conversation of the HGA.  This ritual has  had  an
           important  influence  on twentieth century magicians  and  it  is
           often attempted and occasionally completed.

                The  powers  of Malkuth are invoked by means  of  the  names
           Adonai ha Aretz and Adonai Melekh, which mean "Lord of the World"
           and "The Lord who is King" respectively. The power is transmitted
           through the world of Creation by the archangel Sandalphon, who is
           sometimes referred to as "the Long Angel",  because his feet  are
           in Malkuth and his head in Kether, which gives him an opportunity
           to chat to Metatron,  the Angel of the Presence.  The angel order
           is  the Ashim,  or Ishim,  sometimes translated as the "souls  of
           fire", supposedly the souls of righteous men and women.

           In concluding this section on Malkuth,  it worth emphasizing that
           I  have  chosen  deliberately not to explore  some  major  topics
           because there are sufficient threads for anyone with an  interest
           to  pick up and follow for themselves.  The image of  Malkuth  as
           Mother  Earth  provides a link between Kabbalah  and  a  numinous
           archetype with a deep significance for some. The image of Malkuth
           as physical substance provides a link into the sciences,  and  it
           is  the  case  that at the limits of  theoretical  physics  one's
           intuitions seem to be slipping and sliding on the same reality as
           in Kabbalah.  The image of Malkuth as the sphere of the  elements
           is  the key to a large body of practical magical technique  which
           varies  from yoga-like concentration on the bodily  elements,  to
           nature-oriented work in the great outdoors.  Lastly,  just as the
           design of a building reveals much about its builders,  so Malkuth
           can reveal a great deal about Kether - the bottom of the Tree and
           the top have much in common.

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 



           [1]  Westcott,  W. Wynn, ed. "Sepher Yetzirah", many editions.

           [2] Barrett, Francis, "The Magus", Citadel 1967.

           [3] Scholem,  Gershom G.,  "Major Trends in  Jewish  Mysticism",
                                       Schocken 1974

           [4] Crowley, A, "777", an obscure reprint.

           [5] Regardie, Israel, "The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic",
                                  Falcon, 1984.

           [6] Farrar, Stewart, "What Witches Do", Peter Davies 1971.

           [7] Waite, A.E, "The Holy Kabbalah", Citadel.

           [8] Levi, Eliphas, "Transcendental Magic", Rider, 1969.

           [9] Bardon, Franz, "Initiation into Hermetics", Dieter
                               Ruggeberg 1971

           [10] Bischoff, Dr. Erich, "The Kabbala", Weiser 1985.

           [11] Mathers,  S.L.,  "The Book of the Sacred Magic of  Abramelin
                                  the Mage", Dover 1975.

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


          Chapter 4: The Sephiroth (continued)
               This  chapter  provides a detailed look at each of  the  ten
          sephiroth  and  draws together material scattered  over  previous


               Yesod means "foundation",  and that is what Yesod is:  it is
          the  hidden  infrastructure  whereby  the  emanations  from   the
          remainder  of  the Tree are transmitted to the  sephira  Malkuth.
          Just as a large building has its air-conditioning ducts,  service
          tunnels,  conduits,  electrical wiring, hot and cold water pipes,
          attic  spaces,  lift shafts,  winding  rooms,  storage  tanks,  a
          telephone exchange etc,  so does the Creation,  and the external,
          visible   world  of  phenomenal  reality  rests   (metaphorically
          speaking)   upon  a  hidden  foundation  of   occult   machinery.
          Meditations  on  the nature of Yesod tend to be  full  of  secret
          tunnels and concealed mechanisms, as if the Creation was a Gothic
          mansion  with  a secret door behind every mirror,  a  passage  in
          every wall,  a pair of hidden eyes behind every portrait,  and  a
          subterranean world of forgotten tunnels leading who knows  where.
          For this reason the Spiritual Experience of Yesod is aptly  named
          "The Vision of the Machinery of the Universe".

               Many  Yesod  correspondences  reinforce  this  notion  of  a
          foundation,  of something which lies behind,  supports and  gives
          shape to phenomenal reality.  The magical image of Yesod is of "a
          beautiful  naked man,  very strong".  The image which springs  to
          mind  is that of a man with the world resting on  his  shoulders,
          like  one  of  the misrepresentations of  the  Titan  Atlas  (who
          actually held up the heavens,  not the world). The angel order of
          Yesod is the Cherubim, the Strong Ones, the archangel is Gabriel,
          the Strong or Mighty One of God,  and the God-name is Shaddai  el
          Chai,  the Almighty Living God.

               The idea of a foundation suggests that there is a  substance
          which lies behind physical matter and "in-forms it" or "holds  it
          together",  something less structured, more plastic, more refined
          and rarified,  and this "fifth element" is often called aethyr. I
          will  not attempt to justify aethyr in terms of  current  physics
          (the  closest  concept  I have found is  the  hypothesized  Higgs
          field); it is a convenient handle on a concept which has enormous
          intuitive  appeal to many magicians,  who,  when asked how  magic
          works,  tend  to  think in terms of a medium  which  is  directly
          receptive  to  the will,  something which is plastic and  can  be
          shaped through concentration and imagination, and which transmits
          their  artificially  created forms  into  reality.  Eliphas  Levi
          called  this  medium the "Astral Light".  It is also  natural  to
          imagine  that  mind,  consciousness,  and  the  soul  have  their
          habitation in this substance, and there are volumes detailing the
          properties of the "Etheric Body",  the "Astral Body", the "Causal
          Body" [1,2] and so on. I don't take this stuff too seriously, but
          I do like to work with the kind of natural intuitions which occur
          spontaneously  and  independently in a large number of  people  -
          there  is  power  in these intuitions - and it is  a  mistake  to
          invalidate  them  because they sound cranky.  When I  talk  about

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          aethyr  or  the  Astral Light,  I mean there  is  an  ideoplastic
          substance  which  is subjectively real  to  many  magicians,  and
          explanations  of  magic  at the level  of  Yesod  revolve  around
          manipulating this substance using desire, imagination and will.
               The fundamental nature of Yesod is that of  *interface*;  it
          interfaces the rest of the Tree of Life to Malkuth. The interface
          is  bi-directional;  there are impulses coming down from  Kether,
          and echoes bouncing back from Malkuth.  The idea of interface  is
          illustrated in the design of a computer system: a computer with a
          multitude  of  worlds hidden within it is a source  of  heat  and
          repair  bills  unless  it has peripheral  interfaces  and  device
          drivers to interface the world outside the computer to the  world
          "inside"  it;  add  a keyboard and a mouse and a  monitor  and  a
          printer  and you have opened the door into another  reality.  Our
          own senses have the same characteristic of being a bi-directional
          interface  through which we experience the world,  and  for  this
          reason  the  senses correspond to Yesod,  and not only  the  five
          traditional senses - the "sixth sense" and the "second sight" are
          given  equal  status,   and  so  Yesod  is  also  the  sphere  of
          instinctive psychism,  of clairvoyance,  precognition, divination
          and  prophecy.  It is also clear from accounts of lucid  dreaming
          (and personal experience) that we possess the ability to perceive
          an inner world as vividly as the outer,  and so to Yesod  belongs
          the inner world of dreams,  daydreams and vivid imagination,  and
          one  of  the titles of Yesod is "The Treasure House  of  Images".

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               To  Yesod is attributed Levanah,  the Moon,  and  the  lunar
          associations of tides,  flux and change,  occult  influence,  and
          deeply   instinctive   and  sometimes   atavistic   behavior   -
          possession,   mediumship,  lycanthropy  and  the  like.  Although
          Yesod is the foundation and it has associations with strength, it
          is  by  no means a rigid scaffold supporting a world  in  stasis.
          Yesod  supports the world just as the sea supports all  the  life
          which lives in it and sails upon it,  and just as the sea has its
          irresistible currents and tides, so does Yesod. Yesod is the most
          "occult"  of the sephiroth,  and next to Malkuth it is  the  most
          magical, but compared with Malkuth its magic is of a more subtle,
          seductive,  glamorous and ensnaring kind.  Magicians are drawn to
          Yesod  by the idea that if reality rests on a hidden  foundation,
          then  by  changing the foundation it is possible  to  change  the
          reality.  The magic of Yesod is the magic of form and appearance,
          not   substance;   it  is  the  magic   of   illusion,   glamour,
          transformation, and   shape-changing.   The  most   sophisticated
          examples of this are to be found in modern marketing, advertising
          and  image consultancies.  I do not jest.  My tongue is not  even
          slightly  in my cheek.  The following quote was taken  from  this
          morning's paper [3]:

               Although  the changes look cosmetic,  those responsible  for
               creating  corporate  image  argue  that  a  redesign  of   a
               company's uniform or name is just the visible sign of a much
               larger transformation.

               "The majority of people continue to misunderstand and  think
               that  it is just a logo,  rather than understanding  that  a
               corporate identity programme is actually concerned with  the
               very commercial objective of having a strong personality and
               single-minded,    focussed    direction   for   the    whole
               organization, " said Fiona Gilmore, managing director of the
               design company Lewis Moberly.  "It's like planting an  acorn
               and then a tree grows.  If you create the right *foundation*
               (my  itals)  then you are building a whole culture  for  the
               future of an organization."

          I don't know what Ms.  Gilmore studies in her spare time, but the
          idea  that it is possible to manipulate reality  by  manipulating
          symbols and appearances is entirely magical.  The same article on
          corporate identity continues as follows:

               "The scale of the BT relaunch is colossal. The new logo will
               be  painted on more than 72,000 vehicles  and  trailers,  as
               well as 9,000 properties.
               The  company's 92,000 public payphones will get new  decals,
               and  its 90 shops will have to changed,  right down  to  the
               yellow door handles.  More than 50,000 employees are  likely
               to need new uniforms or "image clothing".

          Note  the emphasis on *image*.  The company in question  (British
          Telecom)  is  an ex-public monopoly with  an  appalling  customer
          relations  problem,   so  it  is  changing  the  color  of   its
          door handles! This is Yesodic magic on a gigantic scale.

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               The  image  manipulators gain most of their power  from  the
          mass-media.  The  mass-media correspond to two  sephiroth:  as  a
          medium of communication they belong in Hod,  but as a  foundation
          for our perception of reality they belong in Yesod. Nowadays most
          people form their model of what the world (in the large) is  like
          via the media.  There are a few individuals who travel the  world
          sufficiently  to have a model based on personal  experience,  but
          for most people their model of what most of the world is like  is
          formed by newspapers,  radio and television;  that is,  the media
          have become an extended (if inaccurate) instrument of perception.
          Like  our  "normal"  means of perception  the  media  are  highly
          selective in the variety and content of information provided, and
          they  can be used by advertising agencies and other  manipulative
          individuals to create foundations for new collective realities.

               While on the subject of changing perception to assemble  new
          realities,  the following quote by "Don Juan" [4] has a definite
          Cabalistic flavour:

               "The next truth is that perception takes place," he went on,
               "because  there  is  in  each of  us  an  agent  called  the
               assemblage   point  that  selects  internal   and   external
               emanations for alignment.  The particular alignment that  we
               perceive  as  the world is the product of  a  specific  spot
               where our assemblage point is located on our cocoon."

          One of the titles of Yesod is "The Receptacle of the Emanations",
          and  its function is precisely as described above - Yesod is  the
          assemblage  point which assembles the emanations of the  internal
          and the external.

               In  addition  to the  deliberate,  magical  manipulation  of
          foundations, there are other important areas of magic relevant to
          Yesod.  Raw, innate psychism is an ability which tends to improve
          as more attention is devoted to creative visualization,  focussed
          meditation (on Tarot cards for example),  dreams (e.g.  keeping a
          dream  diary),   and  divination.   Divination  is  an  important
          technique  to  practice even if you feel you are terrible  at  it
          (and  especially  if  you  think  it  is  nonsense),  because  it
          reinforces  the  idea  that it is permissible  to  "let  go"  and
          intuits  meanings into any pattern.  Many people have  difficulty
          doing  this,  feeling  perhaps  that they will  be  swamped  with
          unreason (recalling Freud's fear, expressed to Jung, of needing a
          bulwark  against the "black mud of occultism"),  when in  reality
          their minds are swamped with reason and could use a holiday.  Any
          divination system can be used,  but systems which emphasize  pure
          intuition are best (e.g.  Tarot,  runes,  tea-leaves,  flights of
          birds,  patterns on the wallpaper,  smoke. I heard of a Kabbalist
          who  threw a cushion into the air and carried out  divination  on
          the  basis  of the number of pieces of foam stuffing  which  fell
          out).  Because  Yesod  is a kind of aethyric  reflection  of  the
          physical world,  the image of and precursor to  reality,  mirrors
          are an important tool for Yesod magic.  Quartz crystals are  also
          used,   probably  because  of  the  use  of  crystal  balls   for
          divination,  but also because quartz crystal and amethyst have  a
          peculiarly  Yesodic quality in their own right.  The average  New
          Age shop filled with crystals, Tarot cards, silver jewelry (lunar
          association),  perfumes, dreamy music, and all the glitz, glamour

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          and  glitter  of a demonic magpie's nest,  is like a  temple  to
          Yesod.  Mirrors  and  crystals are used passively  as  foci  for
          receptivity, but they can also be used actively for certain kinds
          of  aethyric magic - there is an interesting book on  making  and
          using magic mirrors which builds on the kind of elemental magical
          work carried out in Malkuth [5].

               Yesod  has  an  important  correspondence  with  the  sexual
          organs. The correspondence occurs in three ways. The first way is
          that when the Tree of Life is placed over the human  body,  Yesod
          is positioned over the genitals. The author of the Zohar is quite
          explicit about "the remaining members of the  Microprosopus",  to
          the  extent that the relevant paragraphs in Mather's  translation
          of "The Lesser Holy Assembly" remain in Latin to avoid  offending
          Victorian sensibilities.

               The  second  association of Yesod with the  genitals  arises
          from  the  union  of the Microprosopus and  his  Bride.  This  is
          another recurring theme in Kabbalah, and the symbolism is complex
          and  refers  to several distinct  ideas,  from  the  relationship
          between  man and wife to an internal process within the  body  of
          God: e.g [6].

               "When  the  Male  is  joined  with  the  Female,  they  both
               constitute one complete body,  and all the Universe is in  a
               state of happiness, because all things receive blessing from
               their perfect body. And this is an Arcanum."

          or, referring to the Bride:

               "And she is mitigated,  and receiveth blessing in that place
               which is called the Holy of Holies below."

          or, referring to the "member":

               "And  that  which floweth down into that place where  it  is
               congregated,  and  which is emitted through that  most  holy
               Yesod,  Foundation,  is entirely white,  and therefore is it
               called Chesed.
               Thence  Chesed entereth into the Holy of Holies;  as  it  is
               written Ps.  cxxxiii.  3 'For there Tetragrammaton commanded
               the blessing, even life for evermore.'"

          It  is  not difficult to read a great deal into  paragraphs  like
          this,  and there are many more in a similar vein.  Suffice to say
          that  the  Microprosopus  is often identified  with  the  sephira
          Tiphereth,  the  Bride is the sephira Malkuth,  and the point  of
          union between them is obviously Yesod.

               The  third and more abstract association between  Yesod  and
          the  sexual  organs  arises because  the  sexual  organs  are  a
          mechanism  for perpetuating the *form* of a living  organism.  In
          order to get close to what is happening in sexual reproduction it
          is worth asking the question "What is a computer program?". Well,
          a  computer program indisputably begins as an idea;  it is not  a
          material  thing.  It can be written down in various ways;  as  an
          abstract  specification  in set theoretic notation akin  to  pure
          mathematics,  or  as  a  set of  recursive  functions  in  lambda

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          calculus;  it  could be written in several different  high  level
          languages - Pascal,  C,  Prolog,  LISP, ADA, ML etc. Are they all
          they same program? Computer scientists wrestle with this problem:
          can we show that two different programs written in two  different
          languages  are  in some sense functionally  identical?  It  isn't
          trivial  to do this because it asks fundamental  questions  about
          language  (any  language)  and meaning,  but it  is  possible  in
          limited  cases  to  produce  two  apparently  different  programs
          written   in  different  languages  and  assert  that  they   are
          identical.   Whatever   the  program  is,   it  seems  to   exist
          independently of any particular language,  so what is the program
          and  where is it?  Let us ignore that chestnut and go on  to  the
          next  level.  Suppose we write the program down.  We could do  it
          with  a pencil.  We could punch holes in paper.  We  could  plant
          trees in a pattern in a field.  We can line up magnetic  domains.
          We can burn holes in metal foil.  I could have it tattooed on  my
          back. We can transform it into radically different forms (that is
          what compilers and assemblers do). It obviously isn't tied to any
          physical representation either.  What about the computer it  runs
          on?  Well,  it  could be a conventional one made with CMOS  chips
          etc.....but  aren't there a lot of different kinds and  makes  of
          computer, and they can all run the same program. It is also quite
          practical  to build computers which *don't* use electrons  -  you
          could use mechanics or fluids or ball bearings - all you need  to
          do  is  produce  something with the  functionality  of  a  Turing
          machine, and that isn't hard. So not only is the program not tied
          to any particular physical representation,  but the same goes for
          the  computer itself,  and what we are left with is two puffs  of
          smoke.  On another level this is crazy;  computers are real, they
          do  real things in the real world,  and the programs  which  make
          them work are obviously real too....aren't they?
               Now apply the same kind of scrutiny to living organisms, and
          the mechanism of reproduction. Take a good look at nucleic acids,
          enzymes,  proteins etc., and ask the same kind of questions. I am
          not  implying  that  life is a sort of program,  but  what  I  am
          suggesting is that if you try to get close to what constitutes  a
          living  organism  you  end up with another puff of  smoke  and  a
          handful  of  atoms which could just as well be  ball-bearings  or
          fluids  or....The thing that is being perpetuated through  sexual
          reproduction is something quite abstract and immaterial; it is an
          abstract  form preserved and encoded in a particular  pattern  of
          chemicals,  and if I was asked which was more real, the transient
          collection  of chemicals used,  or the abstract  form  itself,  I
          would answer "the form". But then, I am a programmer, and I would
          say that.

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               I   find  it  astonishing  that  there  are  any   hard-core
          materialists left in the world.  All the important stuff seems to
          exist at the level of puffs of smoke,  what Kabbalists call form.
          Roger Penrose,  one of the most eminent mathematicians living has
          this to say [7]:

               "I  have made no secret of the fact that my  sympathies  lie
               strongly  with the Platonic view that mathematical truth  is
               absolute,  external and eternal,  and not based on  man-made
               criteria;  and  that  mathematical objects have  a  timeless
               existence of their own,  not dependent on human society  nor
               on particular physical objects."

          "Ah  Ha!"  cry  the  materialists,   "At  least  the  atoms   are
          real." Well,  they  are until you start pulling them  apart  with
          tweezers and end up with a heap of equations which turn out to be
          the linguistic expression of an idea. As Einstein said, "The most
          incomprehensible   thing   about  the  world  is   that   it   is
          comprehensible",  that  is,  capable of being described  in  some
          linguistic form.
               I am not trying to convince anyone of the "rightness" of the
          Cabalistic  viewpoint.  What I am trying to do is show that  the
          process  whereby  form is impressed on matter  (the  relationship
          between  Yesod  and Malkuth) is not  arcane, theosophical  mumbo-
          jumbo;  it is an issue which is alive and kicking, and the closer
          we  get  to  "real things" (and that  certainly  includes  living
          organisms),  the better the Cabalistic model (that form precedes
          manifestation, that there is a well-defined process of formation
          with the "real world" as an outcome) looks.

          The  illusion of Yesod is security,  the kind of  security  which
          forms the foundation of our personal existence in the world. On a
          superficial level our security is built out of  relationships,  a
          source of income, a place to live, a vocation, personal power and
          influence etc,  but at a deeper level the foundation of  personal
          identity  is  built  on a series  of  accidents,  encounters  and
          influences  which  create the illusion of who  we  are,  what  we
          believe  in,  and  what we stand for.  There is  a  warm,  secure
          feeling  of knowing what is right and wrong,  of doing the  right
          thing,  of living a worthwhile life in the service of  worthwhile
          causes,  of having a uniquely privileged vantage point from which
          to  survey  the problems of life (with all  the  intolerance  and
          incomprehension of other people which accompanies this  insight),
          and conversely there are feelings of despair, depression, loss of
          identity,  and  existential  terror  when a crack  forms  in  the
          illusion,  and  reality shows through - Castaneda calls  it  "the
          crack in the world".  The smug,  self-perpetuating illusion which
          masquerades  as  personal identity at the level of Yesod  is  the
          most astoundingly difficult thing to shift or destroy.  It fights
          back  with  all  the  resources  of  the  personality,   it  will
          enthusiastically embrace any ally which will help to shore up its

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          defenses   -  religious,   political  or   scientific   ideology;
          psychological,   sociological,   metaphysical  and   theosophical
          claptrap (e.g.  Kabbalah); the law and popular morality; in fact,
          any  beliefs  which  give it the power to  retain  its  identity,
          uniqueness and integrity.  Because this parasite of the soul uses
          religion (and its esoteric offshoots) to sustain itself they have
          little  or  no  power  over it and become a  major  part  of  the
               There  are  various ways of overcoming this  personal  demon
          (Carroll [8],  in an essay on the subject,  calls it  Choronzon),
          and the two I know best are the cataclysmic and the abrasive. The
          first method involves a shock so extreme that it is impossible to
          be  the  same person again,  and if enough preparation  has  gone
          before  then it is possible to use the shock to rebuild  oneself.
          In  some  cases this doesn't happen;  I have  noticed  that  many
          people  with  very rigid religious beliefs  talk  readily   about
          having  suffered  traumatic experiences,  and the  phenomenon  of
          hysterical conversion among soldiers suffering from war  neuroses
          is well known.  The other method,  the abrasive,  is to wear away
          the demon of self-importance,  to grind it into nothing by  doing
          (for  example) something for someone else for which one  receives
          no thanks, praise, reward, or recognition. The task has to be big
          enough  and awful enough to become a demon in its own  right  and
          induce  all  the  correct feelings of compulsion (I  have  to  do
          this),  helplessness (I'll never make it),   indignation  (what's
          the point,  it's not my problem anyway),  rebellion (I  won't,  I
          won't, not anymore), more compulsion (I can't give up), self-pity
          (how  did  I get into this?),  exhaustion (Oh  No!  Not  again!),
          despair  (I can't go on),  and finally a kind of submission  when
          one's  demon hasn't the energy to put up a struggle any more  and
          simply gives up.  The woman who taught me Kabbalah used both  the
          cataclysmic  and  the  abrasive  methods  on  her  students  with
          malicious  glee  -  I will discuss this in  more  detail  in  the
          section on Tiphereth.

               The virtue of Yesod is independence, the ability to make our
          own foundations,  to continually rebuild ourselves, to reject the
          security  of comfortable illusions and confront  reality  without

               The vice of Yesod is idleness.  This can be contrasted  with
          the  inertia of Malkuth.  A stone is inert because it  lacks  the
          capacity to change,  but in most circumstances people can  change
          and can't be bothered.  At least,  not today. Yesod has a dreamy,
          illusory, comfortable, *seductive* quality, as in the Isle of the
          Lotus  Eaters - how else could we live as if death  and  personal
          annihilation only happened to other people?

               The  Klippothic aspect of Yesod occurs when foundations  are
          rotten  and  disintegrating and only the  superficial  appearance
          remains  unchanged - Dorian Gray springs to mind,  or cases where
          the  brain is damaged and the body remains and carries out  basic
          instinctive  functions,  but the person is dead as far  as  other
          people are concerned.  Organizations are just as prone to this as

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          [1] A.E.  Powell,  "The Etheric Double",  Theosophical Publishing
                              House, 1925

          [2] A.E.  Powell,  "The Astral Body",  Theosophical Publishing
                              House, 1927

          [3] "It's the Image Men We Answer To",  The Sunday  Times,  6th.
                                                  Jan 1991

          [4] Castenada, Carlos, "The Fire from Within", Black Swan, 1985.

          [5] N.  R.  Clough, "How to Make and Use Magic Mirrors", Aquarian

          [6] S.L.  Mathers, "The Kabbalah Unveiled", Routledge & Kegan Paul

          [7] Roger Penrose,  "The Emperor's New Mind",  Oxford  University
                               Press 1989

          [8] Peter J. Carroll, "Psychonaut", Samuel Weiser 1987.

          Copyright Colin Low 1991

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


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