THE TREE OF LIFE & DEPTH PSYCHOLOGYWe can use the Tree as a technology for connecting with Higher Power, however, we comprehend that notion or force. Using the modern language of psychology (language of the soul) as a level of communication, we can elucidate each sphere in terms of Jungian archetypes, and the various myths associated with that sphere. Briefly, we can make the following associations:
#10 MALKUTH: The Seeker. Can be associated with the initation of the process of individuation or coming-to-wholeness. It is not the process itself, but the starting point. This sphere is also associated with the central nervous system and brain as the physical plane seat of consciousness. It is an aspect of personal consciousness as well as the personal unconscious. Jung speaks of psychosomatic disorders, ideomotor responses, and the archetype of the Persona or social mask; the archetype of the Shadow is our potential both for evil and unlived good; the archetype of the Double is our immortal counterpart. Mythic correspondences of the earthy sphere include Demeter/Persephone, earth mother and maiden bride; Gaia, primal matter; Pan, the nature god; and Hestia, goddess of the hearth, the center. Simple counseling and supportive therapy are appropriate at this phase. It means the end of denial and acknowledgement of the problem.
#9 YESOD: The Dreamer. Corresponds with the moon and 'lunar' consciousness. Also known as the Astral Plane, the realm of waking and sleeping dreams, hypnosis, and twilight imagery. The level of metaphorical perception as contrasted with literal interpretation or "acting out" of Malkuth. Psychosexual, linked to the ego, or emotional concept of self-identity as personal and unique. Lunar archetypes include the Great Mother, White Goddess, and Virgin Goddesses. Jungian archetype is the Syzygy, or anima/animus (contrasexual aspects of self) as it relates to our love interests.
Goddesses include Isis, Artemis, Athena, and Psyche; they relate either directly to the moon or the woman's mysteries of cyclic death and rebirth, or transformation of consciousness in the crucible of the emotions. This is the level of the subconscious mind and instinctual nature; passions (gland central station). Dreamwork is appropriate therapy for this sphere; psychologies which address this level include psychoanalysis, psychodrama, transactional analysis, reality therapy, ego psychology, and dreamhealing.
#8 HOD: The Thinker. Cultivation of this sphere brings about a rational approach to the world. Mental concepts. We learn to approach our problems in a rational manner, and so make effective decisions based on a true understanding of the issues involved, critical thinking. Corresponds with Jung's synchronicity concept of acausal yet meaningful coincidence. Analogous to Mercury, plane of intellect.
Archetypes include Hermes, the alchemical Mercurius, the Trickster, and 'spirit,' as well as certain aspects of Eros as son/lover. Also the Puer Aeternus ("eternal youth"); those who remain too long in adolescent psychology; adult child syndrome; associated with strong unconscious attachment to the Mother (actual or symbolic), much like Eros held for his mother, Aphrodite.
Positive traits are spontaneity and openness to change. Hermes is a god of prudence, cunning, shrewdness and sagacity; invented alphabet, mathematics, astronomy, weights and measure. A study of the psychological types of personality is effective for a rational approach to the diversity of the human race. Hermeneutics and analytical psychologies correspond.
#7 NETZACH: The Lover. A higher aspect of the emotions which includes aesthetics and the establishment of a personal set of values and ideals based on your own personal experience and inner meaning. Must be balanced with the previous sphere for perfect equilibrium and further access. The realm of divination and oracles; the reflective mirror of the creative imagination. Associated with the planet and goddess Aphrodite.
The archetype of the puella or "eternal girl" is a negative or faulty relationship to the father-world. Cinderella complex. A depth understanding of the feeling function as described in Jungian psychology is useful here to move from an overly dependent (codependent) attitude. Love and victory are its qualities. Mythemes relating to this level include those of Aphrodite, Circe; Orpheus; Tristan and Iseult; Guinevere and Lancelot; Heloise and Abelard.
Therapies for the HOD/NETZACH level connect us with our feelings as well as thoughts and process, release, or transform. This is the level of inner child world which comes prior to spiritual rebirth; known as "original pain" work. Polarity Therapy, Bioenergetics, Rogerian Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Existential Analysis, Logotherapy and Humanistic Psychology.
#6 TIPHARETH: The Initiate. The central sphere of the Tree allows a harmonizing of the reasoning faculty with the feelings. It permits a rational evaluation of the worth of relationships and situations, not the emotions which are due to the activation of a complex. The abstract level of the higher mind can be developed through symbolism based on the power of the imaginative function.
This is the sphere of the superconscious, and it forms the link between the spiritual nature of man and his lower self. It is the principle of integration. It is the goal of the Invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel in Magick; the Jungian Self. Known as Beauty, this is the sphere of self-realization. It comes spontaneously and uncontrollably in its emergent stages, then stabilizes over time, punctuated by peak experiences (as defined by Maslow).
This is the level of Transpersonal Psychology. There is a shift from therapy toward spiritual discipline--notably meditation. The beginning phases are marked by alpha bliss and inspiration. Its spiritual experience is the sense of rebirth. Its psychological models include "self-actualization" and the concept of high well-being. Among its archetypal expressions we find hero/heroine; the divine or magickal child; the dynamics of the puer/senex (or puells/wise old woman) whose positive manifestations appear in the well-balanced personality; and the mana personality or wounded healer.
Important solar myths include those of Ra, Osiris, Apollo, Mithras, Christ, Attis and Dionysus. Other myths associated here are the divine marriage of Eros (Hod) and Psyche (younger Aphrodite, Netzach), and the story of Ulysses (Odysseus) with its quest to return to his original home (the theme of wounding, scaring, and healing).
This sphere forms the heart of the Collective Unconscious or transpersonal bands of the psyche. The therapies which address this depth level include Jung's Analytical Psychology, Personal Mythology, Psychosynthesis, and the works of Abraham Maslow and Progoff's Process Meditation. To integrate this level is to transcend the realm of traditional psychology and enter that of esoteric religion or mysticism.
In Tiphareth, you contact the archetype of the Self, or Holy Guardian Angel through an I-Thou relationship--a personalized dialogical relationship. It is an inner guiding principle. We are still within the realm of the divine Imagination, not the Clear Light. It is experienced as a transpersonal power which transcends the ego, expanding your sense of "self" beyond that of mere ego personality. This is the level of knowing the nature of your own awareness. The transcendent function is a reconciling "third" which emerges from the unconscious after the conflicting opposites have been consciously differentiated and the tension between them held.
The Self is our inherent guiding principle, if we but listen to it. It is the central archetype of the psyche. The Self is the integrative and transformative center within the psyche from which dreams, visions, and other inspirations originate. It is characterized by the union of opposites such as light and dark, male and female, good and bad. Symbols of the Self express the psychological process of coming to wholeness, and it is the essence of most spiritual experience. The Self represents the fullest extension and potential of an individual, and provides transcendent experiences which come from beyond one's own personal powers by divine grace.
Symbols of the Self include the God-man, or "son of God," the Royal Marriage or divine union; the Philosopher's Stone of alchemy, the Divine Child, the snake eating its tail, the butterfly, the ring, and the tapestry. The self also manifests as synchronicity, or meaningful coincidence, sexual and spiritual ecstasy and absolute clarity. Other symbols include the mandala or magic circle, the temple, treasure, book, gift, bridge, star, seeds, eggs, rainbow, lit candle, and weddings.
The glyph of the Tree of Life gives a firm basis for a study of the nature of man. It is a very ancient mystical symbol which represents the ten Archetypal Ideas or Energies that are the manifestation of the Unknowable Mysteries. By developing in ourselves the psychological counterparts of these energies, we can become re-integrated with our Real Self, and know our true destiny.
Each sphere has ascribed to it a different aspect of the Self which is most closely related to the functioning of the energy in that sphere. They are closely linked and this means that a development of one characteristic will produce an effect in the other. The overall emphasis is that of balance. By identifying the different aspects of our psychological nature in this way, it is also possible to see how existing forms of psychotherapy and other growth experiences can be aligned to various paths on the Tree, according to the functions they utilize, and the spheres which are being developed.
Within each of us are the essentials for the maximization of our psychological and spiritual potential. Yet even those of us who recognize the potentials within ourselves and aspire to realize them, still need an effective means of transformation. One requirement is a form of training which enables the aspirant to recognize, select and direct the will effectively to life's underlying archetypal realities.
To be able to identify these underlying archetypes, in action, we must have a means for classifying them, and dis-identifying from them. We cannot identify an archetype when we are in unconscious identification with it. If we can detach from it--disidentify--we can identify it as a sub- or superpersonality, rather than our personal self. This is the way to combat archetypal invasion.
The archetypes we are concerned with in Qabala are by no means all the possible archetypes which may subsist either in the collective unconscious or Universal Mind. But they are the essential seven which pertain to magical or mystical evolution, indeed all that pertains to human life. Adding to these another three, we have all that pertains to the universe both outer and inner, both cosmic and microcosmic, as seen by humankind. Speaking both physically and metaphysically, we can perceive only those phenomena which we have the faculties to perceive.
These ten archetypal sources of power correspond to the 10 spheres of the Tree. Since we cannot apprehend them directly, happily there is another way of proceeding. This is the Way which magical and mystical practices have ever followed.
Each of the spheres has its counterpart within each one of us; and that counterpart is also a focal point for the power of the sphere in question. We can, therefore, work with these counterparts within ourselves--and for the greatest effectiveness this working involves the body as well as psyche--to gain a living relationship with the powers of these archetypes.
The main qabalistic exercise for awakening and balancing the powers of the Spheres is known as the Middle Pillar Exercise. It is a means of imaginally "bringing in light." It harmonizes our being on the four levels: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. The exercise is first enacted with the body, like a ritual, to engrain it firmly in visceral and kinesthetic consciusness. Later, you need only visualize your astral body going through the motions, since it will be "second nature."
This exercise is totally safe from the psychological perspective, since it aims toward balanced growth. To work thus, by image and enactment, by calling forth within the self the effect which is to be produced in the outer world--this, from the earliest times has been the method of priest and magician, and most recently experiential psychologies.
The Middle Pillar Exercise associates the spheres of the Tree with the human body. Kether is visualized as radiant white light above the head. Chokmah is the Third Eye; Binah is at the throat; Tiphareth glows brilliant yellow like the sun in the heart; Chesed and Geburah are left and right shoulders, respectively; Yesod is a violet sphere at the genitals; and Malkuth centers where the feet meet the earth.
THE COSMIC TREEBy animating the Tree within our psychphysical structure we identify with the Anthropos, the primordial cosmic Being. It unites our finite nature with the Universal consciousness. We learn firsthand that we are not separate from that, but one with it in our deepest essence.
In the diagram of the Tree of Life, the highest sphere Kether is the primal and unconditioned source of all existence. It precipitates from the three "negative veils of existence." In physics, this is virtual or scalar energy, the stress enegy of the vacuum potential.
Kether is the initial point of positive spiritual energy in our universe, the First Cause, in whatever manner one conceives it (a sort of White Whole). It is also, to the individual person, that particular Divine Flame which is at once the source and center of one's being.
Next, and proceeding from this primal Cause, come the two great spiritual polarities disignated respectively as the Supernal Father (Yang)--creative force in action--and the Supernal Mother (Yin)--formative force in action, giving viability to, but also necessarily in some manner constricting, the energies of the Father.
To the depths of the psyche, these Supernal Parents are represented by the high archetypes of Animus and Anima, in their most exalted aspects. Lesser images of them are made manifest to the less profound levels of the personality. They may be clothed in the cultural bias of a wise old man or psychic wise woman, or with an individual bias may appear as the object of your affection in the archetype is contaminated with personal projections that more appropriately correspond with Yesod.
These top three Spheres are vital to undestanding and using the Tree as a whole, although we do no magical work directly with them. They lie beyond the reach of the mind and its power to actualize our potential. The Third Sphere, that of the Supernal Mother, has however another and more accessible identity as the sphere of Saturn, the highest of the traditional planetary spheres. The power of the Mother, who is both bright and dark (as the Qabalists knew long before Freud discovered her ambivalence), is enthroned as it were behind the figure of Saturn who is ruler of primeval opulence and fecundity and of the barren rocks.
Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Mercury, Venus, and Luna: these, the seven traditional luminaries of astrology are represented by the third through ninth spheres. Their qabalistic characters are not entirely identical with their astrological influences, although Qabalistic and astrological understanding usefully suppliment one another; but the difference need not detain us here. The three outer planets are considered higher octaves of these potencies (Uranus=Mercury; Neptune=Luna; Pluto=Mars). The tenth and lowest sphere represents this planer Earth, or microcosmically the phyical body. In either case it is seen as the recipient of the influences of all the other spheres. The receptive "Bride of the Universe."
If you know something of the quality of the planets in astrology, you already have a foothold in the Qabalistic system. Beginning with the 10th or bottom sphere, which corresponds with the qualities of Earth, the other correspond as follows: Yesod=#9 the Moon; Hod=#8 Mercury; Netzach=#7 Venus; Tiphareth=#6 the Sun; Geburah=#5 Mars; Chesed=#4 Jupiter; Binah=#3 Saturn; Chokmah=#2 Uraus; Kether=#1 spiritual aspects of Neptune (Alternatively, Chokmah is the Wheel of the Zodiac; Kether, the First Swirlings).
The humanistic or psychological meaning of these associations is as follows:
* Yesod/Luna: Bio-psychic or psychosexual functions and feeling instinct responses. Survival Instincts. Adaptation to life experiences and the provision of the self with nourishment, protection and assistance. Moon symbolizes cyclic time, and death-rebirth energy. Also, action taken to bring about actualization of solar purpose through establishment of relationships and maintenance of self as an individual. Lunar principle enables one to adapt, develop and mature within the area defined by Saturn. Lunation cycle.
* Hod/Mercury: The principles of rationality, interchange, association, relatedness, communication, translation, interpretation. Adoption of techniques and the use of knowledge and skill to function in an effective manner. The intellect, reason and tonal quality of the person. Represents fluidic mind-thinking, logical capacity as well as magical or nervous force, i.e. prana, chi.
* Netzach/Venus: Establishment of values and ideals through inner meaing. All attempts to reach the center an partake in communion with one's self and others. Aesthetics and the establishment of a pattern of appreciation and set of values and ideals. Expression of internal experiences.
* Tiphareth/Sun: Principle of Beauty, harmonization, equilibration, integration. Center and power of Self. The person's purpose and direction in life. Principle of self-actualization and centering, one's True Nature. The person's total self is sustained through the vital force of spiritual consciousness.
* Geburah/Mars: A manifestation of initative, assertion, aggression, activity or will. The centifugal force active within experience. All forms of outwardly directed activity. How you begin and maintain things. Power or Might. Force that demolishes all forms and ideas when their term of usefulness and healthy life is done. Symbolizes not so much a fixed state of things, as an act, a further passage and transition of potentiality into actuality. The warrior-consciousness.
* Chesed/Jupiter: The principle of compassion, mercy, preservation, increase, compensation, expansion and assimilation. The process of individual assimilation of the social consciousness. Realm of ethics and morals. The urge to be a self-sustaining entity consciously participating within the social realm. The establishment of a larger frame of reference and the power to grow through cooperation with experience. Dharma or the individual power of right action. Philosopher/king; Renaissance person.
* Binah/Saturn: The True Self, or Anima; liberated soul cleansed of all traces of the mind. The principle forrm as definition for the purpose of individuation through evolution. Principle of Understanding; Shakti or Shekinah, Maya, Isis; the substantive vehicle of every possible phenomena, physical or mental, just as Chokmah is the essence of consciousness.
* Chokmah/Uranus: The True Will, spiritual energy or libido, creative genius, essence of consciousness. Transformation of the power of transformation and the urge to go beyond the area defined by Saturn. Wisdom. The vital energizing element of existence--pure Spirit or Purusha; the basic reality underlying all manifestations of consciousness. The Word or Logos.
* Kether/Neptune: Liberation; universalization; release of self. Master soul. Highest inspiration. Destruction and dissolution of antiquated foms. Source or root of all physicality and consciusness. The Divine Flame in the microcosm, the primary Cause, the Crown, the Monad (the one indivisible and absolute consciousness thrilling throughout every particle and infinitesimal point in the manifested universe in Space.
We can train ourselves to be able to attune to the various spheres, at will. That is, we can learn to induce in ourselves the magical state of consciousness of each (at least the lower seven). Our first objective in doing this is to familiarize ourselves with the primary characteristics of each sphere. This will strengthen the counterpart of each of the powers within the depths of your psyche. This is nourishing and increases your personal potential, and at the same time ensures the balanced progress of your psychological and spiritual development.
Having strengthened these archetypal counterparts and enhanced your awareness of them, and having learned to attune yourself readily to the powers of the spheres, you will be able to draw upon the mighty resources of one or another of those powers as you require, either in psychophysical, psychosexual, and psychological exercises, rituals, meditation, or daily life.
The Qabala is thus a system of relationships among mystical symbols which can be used to open access to the hidden reaches of the mind--beyond the frontiers of reason. Qabala gives us the means to penetrate the meaning behind symbolism, and pass through its interdimensional gates.
It could be regarded as the mystical process in reverse. A natural mystic will have visions by what he calls "the Grace of God" and then attempt to write down his experience in symbolism or analogy. He seeks the nearest approximate metaphors in the language of the mind. The Qabala, by a study of symbolism and archetypes, helps the Qabalist to break through to the reality that the mystic has attempted to describe.
Universal symbolism is more or less immutable in basic significance. The symbolism of mystical man includes the birth mysticism of origins, the heroic battles of the mysticism of love and rebirth, and the mysteries of death and the afterlife. On the Tree of Life, these are all coordinated by the central sphere, Tiphareth, the Sun. It symbolizes the rosy dawn of illumination after crossing the realm of the stars and the moon. Numerical symbolism is shown in the essential 3-ness of the triangle, the Three-In-One of Divinity; the thesis, antithesis and synthesis of Hegelian philosophy; the possible modes of manifestation of force--active, passive and equilibrated. The Sun is the center of a system, source of light, sustainer of life and is a symbol of Deity, etc.
The Tree of Life is waiting to share its fruits with us if we but partake. It is the source of spiritual nourishment. May you eat hearty and enjoy the savor of the One Taste.
Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.
'A guest,' I answered, 'worthy to be here.'
Love said, 'You shall be he.'
'I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on Thee.'
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
'Who made the eyes but I?'
'Truth Lord, but I have marred them;
Let my shame go where it doth deserve.'
'And know you not,' says Love, 'who bore the blame?'
'My dear, then, I will serve.'
'You must sit down,' says Love, 'and taste my meat:'
So I did sit and eat.