Qabalah The View From Tipheret (Part I) by Bill Heidrick

Source: Thelema Lodge I)by Bill Heidrick

[Adapted from Appendix A of The Road to the Sun: A Record of Self Initiation to Tipheret, an unpublished MS, Copyright © by Bill Heidrick]


In what follows, the terms “Mezla” and “shadows” have no relation to a quite different usage in the works of Kenneth Grant.


To touch Tipheret is to reach the center of the Tree of Life. The Tree then assumes new functions. Climbing above is possible; so is descending below. Tipheret is not only the center of the Tree, it is the heart, the one best part.To limit oneself to the heights alone or to the depths alone is pointless. The center is the lawful place of man. The reaches above Tipheret are a vast and dimly perceived future. The passages below Tipheret are an equally vast and nearly equally dimly perceived past. Tipheret is a great lock upon a mighty river. The name of the lock is “Now”. The river above the lock is called “Future”, below “Past”. Through Tipheret passes all consciousness. Tipheret regulates the flow of consciousness.The space between the highest three Sephiroth of the Tree of Life and the lower seven is called the Great Abyss. The three Sephiroth above this gap represent very abstract and spiritual states of mind that are hard to “bring down to Earth,” to link to the seven Sephiroth below. When one has come near to some consciousness of Tipheret, this Great Abyss remains. Its character changes after Tipheret is reached. Before, the Abyss represents a division between the immortal Mind of God and the created levels of mortal consciousness. At Tipheret, the mind of God looms closer. Voices are heard and visions experienced (Yesod function attendant on Tipheret). These communicate imperfectly between the mind at Tipheret and the first three Sephiroth. There is a vagueness, increasing rather than decreasing as attainment proceeds. The mind at Tipheret seeks understanding through reason and in time rises to Geburah. The supercelestial messages are still not fully understood. Purpose is clearer at Geburah and actions in the lower worlds are easily directed. Yet there is a haunting dimness, as of a figure half hidden by the glare of the Sun through morning mist. The mind of the one below the Abyss hungers for the parting of the mists and the clearing of the glare. This hunger builds as a yearning for union with God; and Chesed, the Sephira of the higher emotions is reached. At Chesed desire grows until the mind leaps across the gap of worlds, the Great Abyss, and enters direct consciousness of the highest Sephiroth. In abandoning the lower seven Sephiroth, consciousness in them is diminished and partly lost. The body and the lower mental functions continue in a semblance of independence while the higher functions watch without comprehension of the lower. There is a failure in this, a failure that can be remedied by multiple reincarnation into one body or into successive bodies. This process constitutes spiritual death and rebirth. There is yet another way to repair this failure, this loss of connection between the lower and higher minds. I refer the reader to 32Emanations, the Path of Initiation (A booklet I published in the early ’70s) in the matter of path 27, The Tower. The problem is basically the same. When the lower seven are perfectly developed by great care and long effort, the Abyss ceases to exist and the passage to the Highest is easy. The Tree of Life than changes its form. More about this in later installments of this essay.


We shall now investigate the shadows of the Tree. The Tree is one thing, its shadows are others. The Tree of life is a map of creation and of consciousness. It shows states of mind, and it leads cognition from one state to another. When the Tree is seen from one of its own Sephiroth, and understood by the consciousness that attends that Sephira, it is perceived partially. Each Sephira includes within itself all Sephiroth lower on the Tree than itself, and each projects itself into the higher Sephiroth. Each Sephira provides a distinct perception of the Tree of Life as a whole. Each Sephira colors, as it were, the whole Tree with a distinctive mental tint. The ten views of the Tree of Life that are natural to the ten Sephiroth are “shadows” of the Tree. In Malkut, the tenth Sephira, the Tree is the physical world. All its attributes and all its symbolism relate directly to the senses. Books have been written which expound this view. They insist that all criteria surrounding the Tree of Life be based on physical measurements, astronomical phenomena and the like. Such books often greatly alter the form of the Tree of Life Diagram to make it fit particular physical data. In Yesod, myths and stories define the Tree. In Hod, rational philosophy develops the Tree. In Netzach, love of beauty and pattern overreach the strictly rational, and the Tree is portrayed through artistry and poetic imagery. In Tipheret, no less than a harmonious life can express understanding of the Tree of Life. Geburah views the Tree through teaching and aiding all life. Chesed depicts the Tree as salvation.No matter what the Sephirotic view of the Tree, all the Sephiroth participate. There are no absolutely pure conceptions of the Tree. All understandings are “shadows.” The depth of the understanding is revealed in the intensity and characteristics of the “shadow.” Consider this newsletter. It has physical existence and refers to physical events. These events may be described with the terminology of Qabalah and some understanding of the Tree of Life may be conveyed. This much is Malkut. Accounts of dreams can also be related to the Tree and, by their nature, are a part of the “shadow” of Yesod. Hod’s “shadow” is seen in philosophical and analytical discussions. Netzach is found in that which strives with emotional response and describes physical drives. Tipheret is shown in autobiographical works, in so far as the author’s life tends to harmony, and in accounts of social existence with others. Geburah is found in recommendations for improvement and in the mysterious power that produces remarkable experiences. Chesed is found in the works of aspiration toward the highest.Of all the “shadows” of the Sephiroth that touch this essay, that of Tipheret is the strongest – yet all are present. Even those shadows that are found in Binah, Chokmah and Keter are found in this work. All these things are found in all books and works of all Mankind in varying proportion.But what of the shadow in Tipheret? This “shadow” in Tipheret is one’s own conception of life and of purpose in life. This conception may take any form. It may be formalized into a pattern like the traditional diagram of the Tree of Life or like a manner of life outlined by church, society and state. It may be a hit or miss thing developed without plan and accepted when it settles down to consistency. This conception may be limited in aspiration or it may be without limit. Whatever else it may be, it is the Tipheret level understanding of existence – to a student of Qabalah, a Tipheret tinted shadow of the entire Tree. When this shadow brings joy and pleasure, it is projected downward into the Netzach shadow. When it is analyzed, it is projected into the Hod shadow. When it is dramatized and fantasized it is in the shadow of Yesod. When the Tipheret shadow that is the total conception of one’s own life effects the physical world, the “shadow of Tipheret” penetrates and rules the shadow of Malkut. All these shadows dance and move within each other. They have no separate existence. Tipheret is meaningless without Malkut. Malkut is dead without Tipheret. Hod is sterile without Netzach. Netzach cannot be a vehicle for Beauty without Tipheret. All are in all. All depend on all. There is only one Tree; all seeming separate parts and views are shadows of that Tree. For the word “Tree”, take any word that includes all things in one thing.When the shadow of Tipheret is studied analytically and synthetically, projection into three other Sephirotic shadows occurs. The simple mechanical relationships of life are viewed in Hod. The underlying principles of the life experience are elaborated in Geburah after they are rationally isolated from Tipheret. Binah receives particular examples of the application of pure reason. In like manner, the reactions and developments of emotions project the shadow of Tipheret into three other Sephiroth. The life experience produces simple wonderment and isolated emotional display in Netzach. Chesed draws a unitary longing from these same experiences. Chokmah receives particular tongues of the Universal Flame of Passion that are proper to its own exalted place. Projection of the Tipheret shadow of the Tree also occurs in a balanced fashion into three other Sephiroth. This projection is an elevation or degradation of the life experience accordingly as it ascends or descends on the Tree. No moral connotation is intended by the words “elevation” and “degradation”, only elevation as approach to unity and degradation as multiplication of forms with concealment of unity. The experience that is the shadow of the Tree in Tipheret falls down into Yesod when it becomes puzzling, imperfectly visualized, or imperfectly accepted. The projection into Malkut is accomplished through Yesod. Yesod is the link between the perfected consciousness of living in Tipheret and the physical processes of life in Malkut. In Malkut the life experience becomes actualized in physical living. The weak link between the inward consciousness of Tipheret and the outward life of Malkut is Yesod. One conception of the Tree suggests a solution to this problem, at a price. More will be said about this in later installments of this essay. Projection of Tipheret upward into Keter is nothing more or less than a final perception of the life experience as an absolute unity. When this occurs perfectly, the Tree vanishes into the Absolute Oneness of Keter. Much the same sort of vanishing occurs when the Tree is perfectly projected into the Absolute Multiplication of Malkut. Merkabah Qabalah recognizes ephemeral and partial states of this kind in conjunction with crossing the Abyss, notably under the method called “50 Gates of Understanding” in which the top three Sephiroth become one and the lower- most two are similarly subsumed in each other at the moment of opening of the 50th Gate. Those gates are not combinations of letters, by the way, but of the lower seven Sephiroth with each other.There are many mental and physical activities that involve all the lower seven Sephiroth. Among these are speculations on the form and meaning of the Tree itself. No matter what the basic approach, whether from Malkut, Geburah or wherever, all the Sephirotic shadows take some part. The examples which will follow Part I of this essay are devoted to a study of alternate forms of the Tree of Life diagram. In the sense of their being studies of a system of salvation, they belong to Chesed. As constructions for guidance in life, they belong to Geburah. As efforts produced in life, they belong to Tipheret. Their emotional impact, the delight of understanding them, belongs to Netzach. The rational application of these examples and their more concrete explanation comes from Hod. The direct guidance they have over physical conduct pertains to Yesod. Their physical existence in this publication and their actual effect in the physical world belongs to Malkut. Because they are mainly rational structures, Geburah is their chief place.To understand that which follows, a bit of foreknowledge is necessary on the part of the reader. Some of this may be obtained by reading my earlier booklet, 32 Emanations, the Path of Initiation. The summaries toward the end of that are especially useful. Alternately, the reader may wish to refer to books by other authors on the subject of the Paths of the Tree of Life. The next few paragraphs introduce the Tree to those who may not have seen it before. Those who have considerable experience with these matters will find some of this a bit overly familiar, but it may help the neophyte.


The Tree of Life diagram is a development from a far more complex and ancient system of mysticism called the Qabalah (also spelled: Cabala, QBL(H), Kabbalah, Qabbalah and in various other ways. The word in Hebrew is Qof-Bet-Lamed-Hay, and before 1,000 e.v. it was called: Chokmah Nestorah, Raz and Sod). The original use of the Tree of Life diagram appears to be for organization of methods of interpreting sacred literature. Our familiar Tree of Life diagram appears in 16th century illustrations with the assignment of letters to the paths used later by the Order of the Golden Dawn. The present form of this diagram is not absolutely known to be more than half a thousand years old. Whatever its age, it embodies a philosophy similar in many ways to Gnosticism and Neoplatonism. The diagram is a graphic depiction of the mental universe. In the form used here as “traditional,” it is composed of thirty-two parts, with an additional part sometimes postulated. Ten (or eleven) of these parts are called Sephiroth, a Hebrew word meaning, among other things, “Numbers”. These Sephiroth represent states of human consciousness ranging from unity with God (number 1, called Keter) to immersion in the physical world (number 10, called Malkut). The Sephiroth can also be viewed as stages in creation, as levels of interpretation ranging from the Abstract to the Concrete, and in other ways. Circles are commonly used to represent the Sephiroth on the diagram. Twenty- two lines or paths connect the circles. These paths are transitional mental states created by moving between the more firmly established Sephiroth. There are many details about the Tree of Life diagram that will not be taken up here.


Throughout this essay, the same set of correspondences to the thirty-two parts of the Tree will be used. There are many other correspondences that provide insight; see A. Crowley’s Liber 777. The numbers used here in the diagrams and the left-most column of the tables agree with key numbers used in Liber 777. For simplicity, only Hebrew names and planetary correspondences will be used in this essay for the ten (or eleven) Sephiroth. The twenty-two lesser paths out of Mezla will be linked to Hebrew letters, alchemical symbols, astrological symbols, and Tarot cards. Explanations given with the examples will frequently use Tarot correspondences so that the reader may relate each idea to a picture. All descriptions of such Tarot cards in this presentation refer to the BOTA or Case deck. Its illustrations are simple and pleasing. The Author does not believe it possible for the average person to get much out of the remaining installments of this essay without recourse to such a Tarot deck in the process of reading this material. The “Rider” or Waite deck will do nearly as well. Crowley’s Thoth deck is too complex for this exercise on first reading. Use of the Thoth deck is recommended for enhancement of Thelemic interpretation, but that should come after basic study with simpler symbols.


The correspondences in the tables below are used by the Order of the Golden Dawn, BOTA and many other groups. Paul Foster Case and Aleister Crowley use this system, although Crowley made a modification on paths fifteen and twenty- eight after publishing Liber 777. Other systems exist and are useful. This system is used to render this treatment consistent with itself and with the writings of those mentioned. The attribution of the Hebrew letters in this fashion to the twenty-two paths was published by Athanasius Kircher in the middle of the seventeenth century in Oedipus Aegyptiacus, Tom II, folding plate between pages 288 and 289. Kircher’s astrological correspondences are at variance with these.


comprising the Ten (Eleven) Sephiroth and the Twenty-Two lesser Paths:

The Sephiroth:


Number on
One Keter Crown The beginning of whirlings
Two Chokmah Wisdom The Zodiac
Da’at Knowledge Asteroids or Transuranics
Four Chesed Mercy Jupiter
Five Geburah Severity Mars
Six Tipheret Beauty Sun
Seven Netzach Victory by Endurance Venus
Eight Hod Glory Mercury
Nine Yesod Foundation Moon
Ten Malkut Kingdom Earth

The Paths:


Number on
Hebrew Letter:
Corresponding Tarot
Card title in BOTA Deck:
Eleven Aleph, Aleph Air Elemental Air (Uranus ) The Fool
Twelve Bet, Bet Mercury Mercury The Magician
Thirteen Gimel, Gimel Moon Moon The High Priestess
Fourteen Dalet, Dalet Venus Venus The Empress
Fifteen Heh, Hay Aries Aries The Emperor *
Sixteen Vau, Vau Taurus Taurus The Hierophant
Seventeen Zain, Zain Gemini Gemini The Lovers
Eighteen Chet, Chet Cancer Cancer The Chariot
Ninteen Tet, Tet Leo Leo Strength
Twenty Yod, Yod Virgo Virgo The Hermit
Twenty-One Koph, Kaf Jupiter Jupiter The Wheel of Fortune
Twenty-Two Lamed, Lamed Libra Libra Justice
Twenty-Three Mem, Mem Water Elemental Water (Neptune Neptune) The Hanged Man
Twenty-Four Nun, Nun Scorpio Scorpio Death
Twenty-Five Samekh, Samekh Sagittarius Sagittarius Temperance
Twenty-Six Ayin, Ayin Capricorn Capricorn The Devil
Twenty-Seven Peh, Peh Mars Mars The Tower
Twenty-Eight Tzaddi, Tzaddi Aquarius Aquarius The Star **
Twenty-Nine Qof, Qof Pisces Pisces The Moon
Thirty Resh, Resh Sun Sun The Sun
Thirty-One Shin, Shin Fire Elemental Fire (Pluto P) Judgment
Thirty-Two Taw, Taw Saturn Saturn (Earth Elemental Earth) The World

* Crowley sometimes used the Star in this place in the Thoth Deck
** Crowley sometimes used the Emperor in this place in the Thoth Deck


(Part II will go over the Traditional Tree of Life in detail. Following parts will cover specialized developments of this diagram: The Tree of Two Pentagrams, The Tree of the Hexagram and Pentagram, The Tree of the Two Hexagrams, The Tree of the Two Cubes and suggestions of other progressive developments.)


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