[Adapted from Appendix A of The Road to the Sun: A Record of Self Initiation to Tipheret, an unpublished MS, Copyright © by Bill Heidrick]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 this installment, we will conclude a brief trek over the traditional Tree of Life. The next installment in this series will take up dynamic variation of the paths.
23 …….. The path of (The Hanged Man in Tarot) elevates the lower reason
of Hod to the higher rationality of Geburah. Hod reasons with the things of the Earth, of Malkut. Hod is an examining consciousness, a mentality that sets things into order only through observation of their manifestations. Geburah is a state of mind that plans without concern for details. Hod knows the detailed workings of the physical world. Geburah knows the purpose of the World. The path of Mem connects the precise but fundamentally purposeless organizing activities of Hod with the purposeful but indefinite organizing will of Geburah. The Tarot card shows a man hung upside down by one foot. This is the symbolic state of one who has possessed all but understood nothing. Such a person, gifted with the powers of Hod, soon comes to boredom. His worldly consciousness gives no purpose to his world. To control is not to understand. Such a person comes finally to be hung upon the gibbet of his worldly power. Nothing has meaning. All things obey, but to no purpose. Perfect skill without a purpose is maddening. In that inversion of consciousness an openness occurs. The mind yearns for another mind, an inward guidance. When this yearning is crowned with success, Geburah has been touched along the path of Men. Down this path floods inspiration and purpose in life. Tipheret can view all of life and know its course, but Geburah directs life. Tipheret responds to Geburah’s plan. Hod is the working out of that plan in detail.
22 …….. The path of (Justice in Tarot) elevates the life view of Tipheret to the life purpose of Geburah. The card of Justice depicts a woman with scales and sword. This is the mediatrix of mind, weighing out the proper measure of all things and fending off excess. The mentality of Tipheret is examined along the path of Lamed to produce the guiding will of Geburah. This is a rational process much like that which occurred between Yesod and Hod and between Malkut and Hod. The difference is found in the object. To build Hod, the chief concern is in how and why things work mechanically. In the reaching of Geburah, the concern is in how and why things work morally. Hod seeks and develops skill in the doing of things. Geburah seeks and develops skill in discerning and directing the purpose of life. Along the path of Lamed, the mind rises by examination of its motives until such motives are justified with each other. This justification gives a personal morality to the soul. All older, fragmentary moralities are forgotten in the one, consuming morality of Geburah. This is not necessarily a good thing. The morality so evolved may be a hateful and repressive one. In that case, mind will not progress beyond Geburah. Only when mind is ready to love and to bestow all good things on all who need, will evolution continue. Once Geburah is reached in this way, the path of Lamed becomes a channel for change in all aspects of life. Before reaching Geburah, life is locked in by many vague restrictions. Once Geburah has been fully attained, all the shackles are dropped away; and life is free to follow its willed course. The attainment of Geburah is marked by a freedom from all sense of guilt and unhappy restraint, but not abandonment of duty. When this state is reached before the mind is ready for such responsibility and freedom, great physical danger results.
5 ……… Geburah (Severity). This is the place of consciousness of the proper course of life. This is the guiding will that sets all limits and releases all restrictions. When Geburah is fully attained, conscience ceases to plague, for the dictates of the conscience become consistent and welcome. Geburah is the master of the house of life that is situated in Tipheret. Geburah is obedience to the Will of God in all ways understood. Geburah, once attained, means an end to hesitations. When this Sephira is fully active, the mind is rendered capable of immediate response and proper action in any situation no matter how complex. The working of the body depends on the lower Sephiroth. When all the Sephiroth up to and including Geburah are perfectly developed in a person, that person is capable of anything in mental and in physical action. Nothing can oppose such an one. Such a major adept is perfectly a demigod to rule the world of his life. In practice, the Sephiroth are fully developed for some things and lacking where others are concerned. Repeated passage over the Tree of Life increases the development of the Sephiroth and bestows more power on each attainment of Geburah. At some times, great development is accomplished in the Sephiroth and great freedom to change is obtained. Such a time may be considered a mark of initiation, but not mastery of Geburah. Total attainment and mastery of the Sephiroth is never found in a mortal man. It is man’s purpose to increase his attainments toward an ever advancing ideal. To reach perfection is to become one with God and therefore to become useless to one’s brothers and sisters in the world. Touch union with God, but return quickly to the place of the crying children. Union with God is not the sole purpose of Being, it is a pleasantness that gives strength in time of need. The purpose of Being is found in being in all ways. Geburah is the master who selects the ways. Tipheret is the place of the mustering of the ways. Netzach is the place of the brightening of the ways. Hod is the place of the ordering of the ways. Yesod is the staging place from which the ways reach the physical. Malkut is the place of the action of the ways.
21 …….. The path of (The Wheel of Fortune in Tarot) elevates the emotional complex of Netzach to the emotional idealism of Chesed. The card depicts a wheel surrounded by symbolic creatures. This is a representation of the many cycles of the emotions that are experienced in Netzach. When one emotion is found to underlay all others and to pass without change through all the cycles that change all other emotions, the Sephira of Chesed is touched. The one underlying emotion serves to build a basis for the emotional perfection of Chesed.
20 …….. The path of (The Hermit in Tarot) elevates the emotional part
of the life summation of Tipheret to the emotional union of Chesed. The card shows an old man with staff and lantern on the summit of a snow capped mountain. This is an image of the purified mind searching for vitality and love in the life experience. The emotional aspects of Tipheret are received along the path of Yod to build the emotional perfection of Chesed. When Chesed is reached, the path of Yod becomes a channel for a vitalizing flow of purified feeling from Chesed into Tipheret.
19 …….. The path of (Strength in Tarot) elevates the purposeful will of Geburah to the motivating emotional state of Chesed. The Tarot card shows a Woman opening the jaws of a Lion. This is a representation of purified emotion (Chesed and the Woman) uniting with forceful will (Geburah and the Lion) to invigorate the World. Geburah is filled with purpose, but lacks consistent desire. Without powerful motivation, the highest purpose may go unrealized. The mentality of Geburah knows what to do in life, has the power to do it, but lacks the desire to consistently labor. The path of Tet draws forth from Geburah its systematic, purposeful action and compares it with the desire that supports existence, through Chesed. If the Geburah purpose is unworthy of the Chesed desire, attainment of Chesed is not complete. Only when Geburah’s purpose is a perfect match to Chesed’s desire will the path of Tet be fully opened. When that happens, the life of the person experiencing this consciousness of Chesed will become totally active. Geburah supplies the direction of life, but Chesed supplies the motivation to live. Geburah is the master and Chesed is the mistress of the house of life in Tipheret.
4 ……… Chesed (Mercy). This is the place of consciousness of motivation in life. Chesed is the consciousness of all-encompassing desire for being. All the Sephiroth below Chesed lack the vigor to fulfill their promise until they are joined to Chesed. When Chesed is fully developed and the lower seven Sephiroth are functioning with force and power, the time has come to face the Great Abyss that divides the lower seven from the higher three. Chesed reverses its vitalizing force and the whole lower Tree is filled with yearning to pass up toward the infinite. This is only desirable in that it compliments the attachment to the physical world. Above Chesed are levels of thought too distant to easily effect the physical world. They must be explored and drawn toward the union of consciousness that occurs in Tipheret. It is pointless to climb the Tree of Life just to attain union with pure spirit in Keter. That results in rebirth back into the same course. It is best to develop the whole Tree in such a manner that the tendency to fall down into the darkness of matter is exactly balanced by the tendency to ascend into the light of spirit. As was said before, the middle place is the best place for human consciousness. Neither the physical nor the spiritual should be ignored. Both must be dynamically united.
18 …….. The path of (The Chariot in Tarot) elevates the rationality of purpose in Geburah to the level of pure abstraction in Binah. The Tarot card depicts a crowned figure in a Chariot (the Merkabah of Qabalah and the Royal Arch of Freemasonry) drawn by two sphinxes. This image represents contained force, in the sense of thought contained in the body. The rational elements of Geburah are themselves subjected to reason and the methods of thinking are discovered. These methods of rational thought are preserved as laws of reason in the consciousness level called Binah. After they have been isolated from particular applications by passage along the path of Chet, these archetypal patterns of thought descend at need to furnish tools for individual reasonings in Geburah and Hod. Binah is the crown of the left hand pillar of the Tree. This left hand pillar is called the pillar of severity, owing to the purgative nature of reason.
17 …….. The path of (The Lovers in Tarot) elevates the rational part of
Tipheret to the level of pure reason in Binah. All the passage and complexity of life is examined by the mind to abstract from it the application of reason in the course of living. This set of perfected techniques is added to Binah to round out the tools of the mind. The card corresponding to this path shows two lovers under two trees being united by an angel. The meaning is that the mind (the angel) differentiates between aspects of creation (man and woman) to learn the means of uniting and dividing them. When this path is complete, Binah is attained.
3 ……… Binah (Understanding). This is the place of consciousness of the methods and laws of thought. Binah is a state of mind that has little direct touch with the physical. In Binah only abstract thought exists. That thought is solely devoted to the rational techniques. Mathematics in its purest sense belongs to Binah, also logic and mathematical physics. Things like mathematical physics are not organized experiences of sensation (proper to Hod), but they are idealized abstractions of the physical. They are attempt to produce patterns that could be followed in the creation of a physical universe, but not necessarily this particular Physical Universe. Binah is the storehouse of archetypal patterns for the lower Sephiroth. Binah is a library for Geburah and a pantry for Chesed.
16 …….. The path of (The Hierophant in Tarot) elevates the unified emotional consciousness of Chesed to the level of pure emotional force. All the consciousness of Chesed is involved in a single drive toward some particular fulfillment. This drive is separated from its particular goal in the rise from Chesed to Chokmah along the path of Vau. In Chokmah there is only force: drive and desire without object. This is like a vague but intense unrest that animates a person who knows that something is needed, but who does not know what that thing is. Chokmah is pure force, the source of all energies. The Tarot card of the Hierophant shows a teacher of wisdom ministering to two priests. The meaning of this image is found in the nature of the force that binds and creates. All things must be desired and willed. Before anything can be, there must be the blessing that is the desire force, the energy toward manifestation. The real essence behind all things is desire for existence.
15 …….. The path of (The Emperor in Tarot. var. Star — see July Issue on # 28) elevates the life consciousness of Tipheret, in its emotional part, to the level of pure energy in Chokmah. The Tarot card depicts an Emperor in marital armor sitting upon a stone cube by a river. This is the absolute master of mind sitting on a symbol of the universe and ruling over the flow of consciousness. The path of Vau draws up desire elements from the living consciousness of Tipheret to bring them into union with the absolute and undirected force that resides in Chokmah. This desire force is the true master of all that exists; for, without it, nothing has meaning.
14 …….. The path of (The Empress in Tarot) elevates the absolute reason of Binah to the absolute desire of Chokmah. Binah contains all the tools that go into the making of the universe. These tools are worthless without an energy to make them work. All the power to make plans and carry them out is implicit in Binah. This power is separated from such abstract works and drawn up to complete the formation of Chokmah. Chokmah is the vitality that underlies all else. After Chokmah is reached, the paths from it supply force to all that is below. The Tarot card of the Empress shows an Empress on a bench in a garden. This is a depiction of the process whereby the desire force in Chokmah is joined with the capacity to multiply and embody that force in Binah. The Empress is the mother (Binah) who receives the seed of passion from the father (Chokmah) and who gives birth to all that exists (the things in the garden).
2 ……… Chokmah (Wisdom). This is the place of consciousness of absolute desire. Chokmah is desire without object, desire strong enough to create a world. Chokmah is the summit of emotion, a vast whirling of energy. This Sephira is the crown of the right hand pillar of the Tree of Life. The right hand pillar is called that of mercy, owing to the clement nature of uncomplicated emotion.
13 …….. The path of (The High Priestess in Tarot) elevates the totality of living consciousness at Tipheret to ultimate dissolution in the Absolute consciousness of Being that is found in Keter. The card depicts a pythoness between two pillars and before a veil. This veil is the last concealment of the Absolute. The pythoness is the last voice before the silence that is the ultimate voice of God. This path is the connection between pure Existence without modification in Keter and living existence with all its various forms in Tipheret.
Da’at ….. Midway on the path of Gimel it is the fashion of Qabalists to depict an eleventh Sephiroth called Da’at (Knowledge). This is a symbolic filling of the Great Abyss with the lost knowledge that makes one thing of all creation. It is said that when Da’at is restored, all of the Tree of Life will be one thing and that the Tree will bloom and bear fruit. This means that there is a way to join the abstract Sephiroth above the Great Abyss with the seven Sephiroth below it. When this joining is complete, the Tree is made symmetrical and perfect. Until this joining is made there can be no true mastery of the Tree of Life, or full living in all ways of the mind. The examples which follow this traditional exposition suggest a general way in which this joining may be represented. From the representation, the experience may in time be found. A few more details remain in the traditional example.
12 …….. The path of (The Magician in Tarot) elevates pure, abstract reasoning processes to dissolution in the Absolute unity of Keter. The card depicts a Magician in a garden with his ritual tools upon a table. The meaning of this image is found in the relationship that exists between pure Being (The force that passes through the Magician to work wonders) and the tools whereby that state of Being is incorporated into particular forms (the tools and actions of the Magician).
11 …….. The path of (The Fool in Tarot) elevates desire force in Chokmah to dissolution in the Absolute Being of Keter. The card depicts a carefree person walking toward the edge of a cliff. This image represents total absence of anything to limit or condition. This is the path of Aleph. To the Fool, there is no restriction. The Fool is free.
1 ……… Keter (Crown). This is the place of unconditional existence which may be identified with the highest state of consciousness. In Keter, all is one. Keter is the highest of the four Sephiroth that form the middle pillar of the Tree of Life. This middle pillar is a series of graduated levels of balanced consciousness reaching from the purely physical to the purely spiritual. The two pillars to the right and left contain unbalanced states of consciousness which display either too much emotion or too much rationality. Only the middle pillar is a comfortable place to reside.
This concludes the first of the examples. Those which follow in later installments represent unconventional reorganizations of the paths of the Tree of Life. In each of the next three examples exactly twenty-two paths will be retained to link the Sephiroth of the Tree. These paths are rearranged to form traditional patterns of five and six pointed stars (pentagrams and hexagrams). Through such speculation, new insights into the interrelationships between the Sephiroth may be obtained.