Qabalah could be thought on as the mathematics of the esoteric with the literary side consisting of legends, myths and lore. In Qabalah numbers have a deeper significance. This could be because numbers have mystical properties in themselves, or it could be that numbers, being the purest of symbols, are appropriate entities to hang metaphysical concepts on.
It is difficult to imagine, but the originators of Qabalah had a very different number system from the one we are familiar with today. There is a difference between cardinal numbers (how many there are: 1, 2, 3 ...) and ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd ...). To represent cardinal numbers the early Semitic people used letters : aleph = 1, beth = 2, ... This is the basis of Gematria, where words also have numerical values.
The Sephiroth and Paths of Qabalah represent ordinal numbers. And these have a deeper siginificance because Kether, the first emanation of the Divine, really represents the first, the first thing to exist. The number system we use in the west today is suited to modelling our environment and using these models to manipulate matter. The number system of Qabalah is suited to modelling metaphysical concepts and gaining insight.
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Left : OTz ChIM, The Tree of Life, including translations of most terms, the Four Worlds and the Parts of the Soul, from Thelemapedia.
Right : Tree of Life rendered by Steffi Grant, from The Carfax Monographs.
Hebrew, from Proto-Semitic c. 4000 BCE. English is from the 5th C CE. Hebrew was spoken before it was written. This ties in with the idea in magic :
Geometry of Tree. Made of triangles which make hexagons. Can be derived from flower of life.
3D suggested. Hexagon can look like a cube. Going between dimensions.
The Tree is covered in triangles since a hexagon is comprised of 6 equilateral triangles. The Tree also divdes into three triads.
The Supernal Triad made up of Kether Chokmah Binah (white grey black)
The soul triad made up of Chesed Geburah Tiphereth (blue red yellow, the primary colours)
The personality triad made up of Netzach Hod Yesod (green orange purple, the secondary colours).
Anhatakharana. Going between 2 and 3 dimensions.
At the bottom of the tree is a large triangle made up of Malkuth Hod Netzach.
Triangles can make 3 regular polyhedra. There are only 5 regular polyhedra the Platonic solids : Tetrahedron, Cube, Octahedron, Dodecahedron, Icosahedron.
There are 10 Sephiroth. Ten is of significance to us because it is the base of our number system. 10 is the 4th triangular number (i.e. 10 = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4), and this is true in any base.
Ten is also the 3rd tetrahedral or triangular pyramidal number. This is also a property that is independent of base.
In the animation above there are ten spheres counting from the yellow layer to the top. Ten is the sum of the first three triangular numbers : 10 = 1 (black) + 3 (red) + 6 (yellow). Ten itself (blue) is the next number in that sequence.
3 is the least number of rods required to create a stable structure.
Buckminster-Fuller was a big fan of triangles.
Geodesic sphere. Flower of life. Geodesic Greenhouse.
Tensegrity. Building with tension and compression.
A drystane dyke is Stone Age technology, it is an art to shape all the stones so the wall stands up without cement. This is still the principle of modern buildings stone piled on stone.
One definition of magic is :
By this definition engineering, like a lot of human activity, is magic, clearly visible in Malkuth.
Yesod is inside the triangle of Malkuth Hod Netzach. On the site borndigital.com (aka ifdawn.com) it is suggested that Yesod corresponds with the Buddhist principle of Samsara.
Along the lines of the comic writer Alan Moore, I tend to think on Yesod as imagination. In his comic Promethea Moore identifies Yesod and Hod as two spheres that are readily accesible and important to the magician. In an interview Moore said :
In Yesod Moore visualises what the comic will look like.
In Hod Moore manipulates language to create a narrative. Hod can be accessed through an internal monologue, or symbols. By symbol I mean a mental image that represents an object or concept quite definitely (e.g. a graph), not the sometimes fantastical, imaginative mental images of Yesod.
The sphere of Netzach can be accessed through our feelings. I think on feelings as non-verbal thoughts. Joining Hod and Netzach is the Tarot card The Tower.
I tend not to use the Tarot for divination. Even if divination has no correlation with the future and is entirely random, it can still have benefit. A random factor could break us out of habits.
The Tower to me represents the internal conflict between thoughts and feelings, or heart and head.
The inner conflict can be transcended by getting here, the centre of the Tree. Paths lead to every Sephira, except Malkuth. A state of altered consciousness. Consciousness of consciousness There is no direct route back to Malkuth. Tiphereth literally means Beauty. Beauty in a general sense is something that facilitates joy. Gold, the purified consciousness of Alchemy.
Ra, Krishna, Christ. Note the gold and Solar Cross around Christ.
The Romans wouldn't have persecuted the early Christians if there was nothing in it. Originally there was something in it : joy, love, light, warmth, gold the agape, the love feast. Christ may have been an initiate of The Essenes. The time wasn't right to talk openly about Tiphereth. There is a cross or tau in the Tree, made out of the four Sephiroth Malkuth (earth) Tiphereth (air) Binah (water) Chokmah (fire). It could be seen that talking about the Tree was the undoing of one Yeshua ben Yosef.
In Crowley's order Tiphereth corresponded with the grade Adeptus Minor. Crowley possibly wanted to bring people to joy as a reaction to Victorian society. While mountaneering with Eckenstein, a big influence on Crowley, they heard Queen Victoria had died. Crowley was overjoyed.
Queen Victoria looking suitably happy.
One way to experience joy is through great art.
A work of great art, The Hallucinogenic Toreador by Salvador Dali
Crowley called the card joining Yesod to Tiphereth Art.
The traditional card is called Temperance. This concept was possibly alien to Crowley. The card from the Thoth deck uses dualistic imagery, a lion and an eagle fighting, representing transcending the inner conflict between Hod and Netzach. To get to joy, the magician requires temperance to create art of some sort, whether that be a painting or a working.
Geburah by Rosaleen Norton
Variously translated as strength, power, courage or heroism, Geburah represents the magician's Will in action. The discipline and perseverance required to make changes happen. The card joining Geburah and Chesed is traditionally called Strength.
This Plane of the Tree is about strength.
If Geburah represents Will then Chesed represents What Will Acts On.
Issue 20 of Alan Moore's comic Promethea is devoted to Daath and the Abyss. In Moore's version there used to be a Sephira Daath and back then the Tree and the world were perfect. Something happened to Daath, it blew up, fell off the Tree or fell into disrepair. This is why the world is a bit of a disaster area. Moore includes two now defunct paths The Beggar and The Fountain, joining Chesed to Daath to Binah.
Grant Morrison said his Abyss experience was harrowing. He was physically and mentally ill and attempted suicide more than once.
The Abyss is where the magician meets himself. Hidden behind the veil of the Abyss is Daath, which means knowledge. Self-knowledge, higher knowledge, knowledge about knowledge.
Whatever it was the magician built on to climb this high, it was all arbitrary. The magician realises that a lot of human knowledge and activity are similiar. A lot of human knowledge and activity is 'made up'.
Traditionally Choronzon is associated with the Abyss. He is not a fanged, horned demon. He could be a TV programme, or a daydream. Choronzon represents wandering thoughts, which cause the magician to lose focus.
Binah by Rosaleen Norton. Note the figure is holding an infinity symbol.
It is the pull of Binah that is going to get the magician out of the Abyss. Understanding. Binah corresponds with the part of the soul Neschemah, interpreted as The Intuition.
The card leading to Chokmah is The Empress.
Interpreted as Nature, which gives forth life constantly, endlessly.
Chokmah corresponds with the part of the soul Chiah, (ChIH, Cheth Yod Heh) which in Liber 777 is intepreted as The Lifeforce. Strikingly similiar to the Chinese concept of Chi.
Joining Chokmah and Kether is the card The Fool.
This Archetype comes up often. e.g. Wagner's opera Parsifal based on Wolfram von Eschenbach's version of the Grail legend.
The perfect fool, pure of heart and stripped of cultural conditioning can take the Grail without suffering the Amfortas wound.
How at the Castle of Corbin a Maiden Bare in the Sangreal and Foretold the Achievements of Galahad by Arthur Rackham. Note the white and gold, Qabalistically associated with Kether.
The Goddesshead. The source of all. Part of the soul : Jechidah, The Self.
The source of the Sephiroth. The nothing that something, Kether, came from. Translated as Limitless Light this points to infinity.
The mathematician Cantor thought he had found Ain in mathematics. He called it Aleph null, the smallest transfinite cardinal number. Infinity and nothing are related. In a simple example if there are infinitely many integers, both positive and negative, they sum to zero.
The Serpent is the route up the Tree winding slowly through all the Paths in reverse order.
The Flaming Sword is the route back down the Tree, making a zig-zag lightning bolt through all the Sephiroth. I don't think on this as the big bang, I think on it as something that is happening all the time, like a strobe light flashing, creating this.
Back in Malkuth Stephen Wolfram has been doing some work on developing models of the physical Universe. In his book A New Kind of Science Wolfram suggests that cellular automata produce good models of the universe. Undoubtedly there are some interesting results in the book.
If the universe is like a giant simple programme, an iterative algorithm, what is the clock pulse that makes the programme step through ? What makes the cellular automaton change state ?
The clock pulse of the Universe could be seen as The Flaming Sword flashing down, changing the state of an incomprehensibly huge binary system.
In Douglas Adams' book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Adams suggests that the meaning of life, the Universe and everything is 42.
The Flaming Sword, the clock pulse of the Universe.