Q-ball for the masses.

Limping towards heaven: Walking pathway 25, Samekh

By J Simpson | December 10, 2014 | Leave a comment

Emerald pathway, image by Guian Bolisay

The 25th pathway that connects the sphere of Yesod (foundation) to the sphere of perfect unity, Tiphareth, is known as Samekh, “the prop.” Samekh is the process by which the divine tests the aspirant, and comes in phases. The path is illustrated by the tarot trump XIV, Temperance, with its alchemical imagery of the joining of opposites, and the astrological sign Sagittarius.

The main symbol of Samekh is that of an arrow being shot straight into the air. Samekh hurtles out of the three lower pathways that connect Malkuth to the higher sephirah: Qoph, Shin, and Tau. The first letter of each of these paths creates the word QShTh, Qesteth, the Hebrew word of “bow.” Yesod, Hod, and Netzach could be seen as one’s personal life, and Samekh is the first path that seeks to transcend that, bursting into the cosmic light. As such, it is known as “the piercer of the sanctuary.” The word Qesteth also means a rainbow, a symbol of God’s covenant with humanity, and correlates with the rainbow bridge of mythology, tying it further still into the myth of centaurs, and Chiron in particular.

Path 25 is also related to the Great Work, the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Here’s where part of the discrepancy and the controversy that comes in around this particular pathway. Aleister Crowley must have thought this path was essential to the angelic conversation, as he named his treatise on Abramelin‘s magick “Liber Samekh,” while others think this integration should have already taken place, and that your HGA should act as a guide through the Chapel Perilous of Samekh. The controversy comes in the numbering, and the order by which the paths “should” be undertaken. There are three pathways that approach the central sphere of Tiphareth: Ayin, Nun, and Samekh, emanating from Hod, Netzach, and Yesod, respectively. Ayin and Nun are ruled over by the tarot trumps XV, The Devil, and XIII, Death, who act as guardians for Tiphareth, and must be accounted for to take advantage of the lessons learned there. By breaking with the accepted numeration and going straight up the centre, one avoids the imbalances and distortions of veering off to the side pillars. In magick, as in life, balance is the thing. Continue reading

The Dragon’s Brain and Wormhole of Daath

By Mark Dunn | November 13, 2005 | Leave a comment

The Qabbalistic hidden sephirah of Daath can be aligned with the throat area of Adam Kadmon whose spinal column is the trunk of the neural network of the multiverse world tree of knowledge around which the fire serpent winds as a bio-photon lightening strike of illumination. The serpent flashes up and down the tree constantly, being ones lightening strike of consciousness which assembles a world of a synchronicity mesh of a cooperative creative existence being ones experiential reality of fixative inertia.

One is usually unaware of this process of fixation, betwixt and between the mental piloting field of the branches that touch each and every star of far flung futures beckoning back and that of the past roots of matter calling to one through deepest memory. However one can shift the fixation of consciousness by becoming aware of Daath.

By becoming aware of ones inborn ability at Daath one can shift ones fixative awareness into assembling another synchronicity mesh of experiential phenomena by tuning into another reality. Daath is that of the reptilian brain stem at a physiological level and is the oldest part of the brain. It evolved more than five million years ago and inextricably links us all to our reptilian amphibious ancestors.

Because it resembles the entire brain of a reptile, it is often referred to as the reptilian brain. The brain stem determines the general level of alertness and warns the organism of important information. The brain stem also controls the basic handling of the bodily functions necessary for survival such as ones breathing and heart rate.

Located at the centre of the brain stem is a core of neural tissue that travels its full length known as the ‘Reticular Formation’, it contains a number of nuclei, which are part of the reticular activating system RAS. The RAS acts akin to a telephone bell, which alerts the cortex (the thinking area) about arriving information such as “visual stimulus on the way”. There are areas in the reptilian brain stem associated with ones sleeping processes known as the ‘Locus Coerulus’ being a small patch of dark cells which is thought to produce a secretion that initiates REM sleep in which we dream.

Should one be able to catch that point between waking and sleeping, where one is at the periphery of going into deep sleep, known technically as the hypnagogic state, one can gain conscious ingress into ones dreams. The technical term for ones egress out of ones dream between sleeping and waking is called the hypnapompic state. One will then have the sensation of being sucked into a void of a torsion tunnel as ones conscious awareness is introverted into that of the dreaming state via the captured hypnagogic state.

The experience of the void was known to the ancient Qabbalists as the experience of the Abyss over which Daath becomes as a bridge, being that of the pathway, which links the two sephirah of Tiphareth and Kether. The Hebrew letter associated with the pathway that links Tiphareth and Kether is ‘Gimel’ that means a ‘Camel’. The ancient Iranians associated the Camel with the Serpent Dragon, which the Qabbalists see as being the vehicle, which carries ones awareness over the desert of worlds and through the Abyss at Daath.

The Tarot card associated with the pathway of Gimel is that of Priestess of the ‘Silver Star’. The ‘Silver Star’ is associated with the star of Sirius. The image of the Priestess is depicted seated upon a throne between two pylons one ‘White’ the other ‘Black’ forming a gateway of a stargate. The two pylons are associated with the two main chains of nerves that are on either side of ones spinal column being that of the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system are the two parts of the Autonomic Nervous System. The Parasympathetic Nervous Systems nerve fibres emanate largely from the upper and lower part of the brain stem.

The two pylons on either side of the Priestess that form a gateway are called the pillars of severity and mercy. These two pillars one can be equate with dual aspects that the ancient Babylonian Goddess Ishtar whose nature was that of war and love and thereby the Priestess becomes as the ‘gate of Ishtar’. The priestess is the stargate into the Implicate Order of the dreaming mind and she is often depicted as being veiled representing the hypnagogic hymen veil.

The hypnagogic hymen veil acts as a filtering system. This filtering system, blocks off any conscious access at first by reflecting back ones confused emotive states. One will initially encounter a kind of white noise that tugs ones consciousness to either side of her veiled Yoni stargate of a captured internal wormhole due to ones emotional emphasis in relation to the pylons on either side of the Priestess.

The Priestess is also associated with the ancient Egyptian Goddess Isis whom represents the star Sirius and was artistically represented by effigies from Cyzicus, a city opposite Byzantium as a half woman and half Fish thereby indicating an amphibious nature of consciousness that she can bestow.

The star Sirius is commonly known as the Dog Star and the Dog is associated with the 13th Qabbalistic pathway of Gimel being the ‘guardian of the threshold’. The Dog is also that of the ancient Egyptian God Anubis. Anubis is the lord of mummification and embalming and especially that of the death trance. The Dog is also that of the ancient Greek three headed Dog of the underworld known as Cerberus and that of Dr John Dee’s Choronzon of the Enochian magickal system who is the intelligence of the veil of the Abyss. The Dog also represents the Mammalian brain of the Cerebellum, which resides atop of the reptilian brain stem and is the headquarters for the Autonomic Nervous System. Betwixt and between the hemispheres of the Cerebellum one will find the vestigial eye of the pineal gland, which is symbolically associated with the apple of knowledge for its elixir of serotonin determines the fine tuning of ones neural net. The pineal gland is activated by light, however the serotonin that it produces determines what ones nervous system tunes into. One of the methods employed in order to overcome this problem was to retreat into darkness such as that of a cave for example for initiation purposes so that to retune the nervous system. The other method employed besides that of hallucinogens was via engineered dreams.

At the point of capturing the unconscious automatic process via consciously accessing the hypnagogic state one will become aware that one is being carried along by a natural ongoing automatic mechanism as ones consciousness spirals through an internally caught stargate of a wormhole at Daath. Ones dreams are as storms of electrons imbued with bio-photon light and it is conjectured that at a sub-atomic level one can find mini wormholes whereby at the level of the dream ones introverted consciousness can access such mini wormholes into other realities.

The experience of consciously accessing ones dreams gives one an insight into the formula of the Tetragrammaton, which in the Hebrew is IHVH and in translation, Yod, He, Vau, He being the name of God.

When one gains conscious internal ingress via the hypnagogic veil one becomes as the fertilising seed point of the spermatozoic serpent of consciousness and that of the fiery ‘Yod’ of the energetic emotive charge. It is here that one encounters the Father whom calls out the ‘word’ into the void so that to split the Egg of the dream.

Then one is sucked into the hypnagogic Yoni portal of a wormhole at ‘He’, whereby one experiences the process of informational associative patterning. It is here that one encounters the Mother principle of the fertilized womb. The informational streams emanating from a myriad number of alternate realities existing in a myriad number of parallel universes that flow through the Yoni portal of the internal wormhole are spun into filtered associations of informational retrieval.

The spun informational streams then become as a vaginal star barrelled torsion tunnel upon ones energetic emotively charged ingress. The filtering of the informational streams emanating from a myriad number of worlds both past and future are filtered through ones internally imprinted symbolic interface of an emotively charged dialogue that one has with ones self.

The spun informational streams are then cohered and organized around ones emotive charge into an interference pattern, which is nailed down at ‘Vau’. It is here that the Son is at the midst of conditions crucified upon the cross of four directions whom squares a circle. At the greatest point of torsion one finds the informational streams are nailed down into an informational associative fractal dream domain of fixative inertia for one becomes as the ‘strange attractor’ nailed down to ones own fixation.

The ‘interference pattern’ of the fractal dream domain that one finds ones self within is that of the Implicate Order of the ‘mental’ dreaming reality. The symbolic information that one encounters within the dream is the distillation of encrypted symbol knots of information being the sum total of many associative minds.

One will find that the symbolic interface of the dream is somewhat akin to a mirrored bowl for it reflects back ones nailed down energetic emotive charge into an associative fractal pattern of symbolic triggers.

At a certain point one is then drawn out of the Implicate Order of the dreaming mind into that of the Explicate Order of ‘material’ reality via the hypnapompic yoni portal of a wormhole at ‘He’. What one will then experience at ‘He’ upon ones egress out of the Implicate Order of the dreaming mind is that of the phenomena of synchronicity within the Explicate Order of reality. It is at this point one will encounter the Daughter dancing the seven veils of illusion, which reflects back ones own self. One then finds that the trigger symbols of synchronicity experienced within ones Explicate Ordered reality will correlate with the internally experienced symbols of ones prior Implicate Ordered dream.

The synchronicities experienced within ones Explicate Ordered reality generate an energetic emotive charge of a Yod within ones self, which again is fed back into ones internal yoni portal of a wormhole, one then becomes aware that it is a continuous feed back loop of a serpentine lemniscate of phenomena.

One can look at the lemniscate as being two triangles on their sides facing each other, whose two points can be seen to touch. At each of the four cornered points around the figure one can place the Hebrew letters Yod, He, Vau, He. At the mid-point where the two points of the triangles meet can be found the hidden name of the deity.

At the mid-point of the lemniscate one becomes aware of the lightening flash of the serpent of seven seals that one feels as shimmering up and down ones spine constantly, which fixates ones consciousness into a chosen synchronicity mesh of an experiential reality. As one gains conscious ingress into the yoni portal of a wormhole at Daath one can consciously fixate ones consciousness into another lemniscate of an alternate ‘mental’ reality and thereby tune into a corresponding alternate ‘material’ reality.

The name of the deity is the ‘word’ that one consciously utters into the void as one is sucked into the Yoni portal of a wormhole at Daath into then consciously generating the phenomena of synchronicity. The word uttered will determine the nature of ones ingress into a fractal dream domain as well as the symbolic triggers reflected back at ones self within the Implicate Order of the dream. This in turn will determine the correlating symbolic expression of the phenomena of synchronicity experienced within ones Explicate Ordered reality whereby one will find ones own self as the deity sought for. One might also become aware that one be as a fallen Angel into the realm of inertia but it be just one of many worlds to explore when to win ones wings again as a World Walker.

© Mark Dunn 2005

Chapter 4: The Sephiroth: Yesod

By Colin Low | April 14, 2002 | Leave a comment

This chapter provides a detailed look at each of the ten sephiroth and draws together material scattered over previous chapters.


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 hypothesised 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” 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 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”.

To Yesod is attributed Levanah, the Moon, and the lunar associations of tides, flux and change, occult influence, and deeply instinctive and sometimes atavistic behaviour – 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 irresistable 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:

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 organisation, ” 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 organisation.”

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 pay phones 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 colour of its door handles! This is Yesodic magic on a gigantic scale.

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” has a definite Kabbalistic 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, focused 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 intuit 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 ho 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 and glitter of a daemonic magpie’s nest, is like a temple to Yesod. Mirrors and crystals are used passively as focii 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.

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.

“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 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.

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:

“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 Kabbalistic 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 Kabbalistic model (that form precedes manifestation, that there is a well-defined process of form-ation 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 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 problem.

There are various ways of overcoming this personal demon (Carroll, 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 blinking.

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 Qlippothic 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 people.

Notes on Kabbalah
The author grants the right to copy and distribute these Notes provided they remain unmodified and original authorship and copyright is retained. The author retains both the right and intention to modify and extend these Notes.

Chapter 4: The Sephiroth: Malkuth

By Colin Low | April 14, 2002 | Leave a comment

This chapter provides a detailed look at each of the ten sephiroth and draws together material scattered over previous chapters.


Malkuth is the Cinderella of the sephiroth. It is the sephira most often ignored by beginners, the sephira most often glossed over in Kabbalistic 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 Kabbalistic aphorism that “Kether is 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 realisation 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.

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 Kabbalistic texts 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 forms.”

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 Kabbalistic literature makes much of the (carnal) relationship of God and the Shekhinah. Waite 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 &.

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 rarefied 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.

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”. The hierarchy of elemental powers can be found in “777”  and in Golden Dawn material – 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” had been taken by Alex Saunders lock, stock and barrel from traditional Kabbalistic and CM sources.

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


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 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” and the material world. Aethyr is often thought to come in two flavours – 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 ;-}

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 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 rigours 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.”

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 Qlippoth *underneath* Malkuth as a relection 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 Qlippoth, 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 Qlippoth as demonic forces, and the Tree of Life comes alive with its full power of good *and* evil. The following quotation from Bischoff (speaking of the Sephiroth) provides a more rational view of the Qlippoth:

“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 (Qlippah) of the preceeding, 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) Qlippoth.”

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 Qlippoth 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 Qlippah. 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 Qlippah of Malkuth is what you would get if the Sun went out: Stasis, life frozen into immobility.

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 realisation 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 colour 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 colour of the *bottle* important? What *is* important? 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 through 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 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 emphasising 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.

Notes on Kabbalah
The author grants the right to copy and distribute these Notes provided they remain unmodified and original authorship and copyright is retained. The author retains both the right and intention to modify and extend these Notes.

Copyright Colin Low 1992 (cal@hplb.hpl.hp.com)

Chapter 3: The Pillars & the Lightning Flash

By Colin Low | April 14, 2002 | Leave a comment

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)
              (Splendour)     |       (Firmness)
                 \ \          |           / /
                  \ \         |          / /
                  \  \        |         / /
                   \  \       |        /  /
                   \   \    Yesod     /  /
                    \    (Foundation)   /
                     \                 /
                      \       |       /
                       \      |      /
                        \     |     /

                           Figure 8

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 Kabbalistic 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” in precisely this sense – it is 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 extravagent  metaphors,   and  by  elimination  (“not  this,  not that”).

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 nd   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-Itself.

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 become”.

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 perciptible  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.

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 recognise 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.”

This  conversation  is  not fictitious  and  is  quintessentially Netzach.  The structure of the Tree of Life posits that the basic driving  forces which characterise our behaviour  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 realised 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 realisation  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.

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 Lighning 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” 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 created.”

The  quotation within the quotation comes from  Ezekiel  1.14,  a text   which  inspired  a  large  amount  of  early   Kabbalistic 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 analysing 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 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.

Notes on Kabbalah
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