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