Title: Netzach, Victory
Magical Image: A beautiful naked Woman
Position on the Tree: At the base of the Pillar of Mercy
Yetziratic Text: The Seventh Sephira is called the Occult Intelligence because it is the refulgent splendor of the intellectual virtues which are perceived by the eyes of the intellect and the contemplations of faith.
Kabbalistic Titles: Firmnesss, Triumph, Victory
God Name: Jehovah Tzabaoth
Order of Angels: Elohim, Gods
Planetary Correspondence: Venus, Nogah
Spiritual Experience: Vision of Beauty Triumphent
Vice: Unchastity, Lust
Physical Correspondence: Loins, Hips, Legs
Symbols: Lamp, Girdle, Rose
Tarot Cards: The four Sevens
Introduction to Netzach
Netzach is usually translated as Victory, but it also means clarity or brightness, such as sincerity and truth, or perfection and glory. All these can be characteristic of our desire nature. Whatever we strongly and consistently desire is always victorious--it dominates our attention.
The outcome of desire is karmic experience, since karma is simply the result of our actions, and active desire and yearning lead to action. If the desire is selfish, we may turn away from the results in disappointment and disgust. Therefore, it is wise to be careful what you allow yourself to desire and the intensity with which you pursue it.
Clarity, in regard to Netzach means that we learn to become more effective at thinking things clear through. Of course, we can't foresee all contingencies, but we can develop a more circumspect attitude. Satiety with material desires makes them no longer attractive to us. Detachment goads us into a search for something more meaningful--for something less transitory.
Reaching upward, we find relief from dissatisfaction and boredom, as the light of truth pours in with increasing intensity. Finally the brightness of Inner Light saturates us with its truth. The Higher Self is able to gain a lasting victory over the delusions of the lower nature, and our perspective is changed forever.
This is the sphere of sincerity and truth, for we cannot pretend when it comes to desire or devotion. It cannot be faked. Our attention wanders off weak desires, but when the focus of desire is the search for the Beloved, sincerity is the only way to become a conscious and effective instrument.
A degree of perfection is the spiritual experience of Netzach, for it is where the final work of personality transmutation takes place. When you are no longer attached to earthly desires, and yearn for the harmony of the Truth of Unity, desire becomes the key to perfection or individuation. But sincere desire must be accompanied by the desire to act as an instrument for the outflow of Higher Wisdom. This requires some maturity and life experience.
In Netzach our love grows and prepares us to embrace fully a philosophy of life based on the truth of Unity and the power of Love. In Malkuth, we sought processes hidden below the surface of observable reality. This realization led to the desire to find out more about unseen realities. We learned the importance of dedicating ourselves to work for realizing our human potential (Hod) and the evolutionary force. On Path 25, we become artists of the evolutionary process.
In Yesod, we built a firm foundation for the transmutational work. Directed by the Self, tapping the power of Yesod accelerates the transmutation process by building in new structures that lead to spiritual rebirth in Tiphareth. Hod helps us develop faith through satisfying the intellect with objective validation of our experiments. Form comes to be perceived as synergetic interaction of points of conscious, living light. These relationships can be represented by certain geometrical figures.
Human consciousness is a formative power which grows stronger when we aspire with increasing devotion and intensity. When we keep knocking at that door, we realize an influence descending from above. There is a feedback loop that keeps the process intensifying enough to keep desire alive through inevitable dry periods of practice.
We see our experiences and the purpose of life the way we want it to be. When we synthesize our learning and experience into a philosophy, desire is very much a part of it. We can pursue it sceptically or idealistically, but both can be zealously pursued. We philosophize from our emotional biases. The difference is that the Qabalist's desire is a refined, unattached, and directed desire. It is based on practice and direct experience of higher states of consciousness. Desire (or bhakti) can be cultivated and focused into full creativity (Tiphareth). This yoga of devotion links us back to the source.
Netzach is the sphere of fire on the mental plane. It means "remembrance" but with more acute realization than ever before. The goal is kept before the mind's eye with imagery and exercising creative imagination (dhyan) as the force which transforms spiritual energies into manifestation. This brings an increase in devotion and aspiration, and an acceleration in the cycle of development. The seeker is ready when he can exert consistent personal effort to gain more understanding of life.
Netzach brings stabilization and experiential realization to the mental knowledge that personality is a vehicle for the radiant form of the divine Self. First it comes only in fleeting moments. But receptivity grounds it in the ego, feelings, and behavior. This series of realizations accelerates development. Deeply knowing that the Self of every human personality is One, is the highest expression of the power of Venus, her truest beauty, nobility and grandeur.
By demonstrating Love, we enter more fully into the stream of higher consciousness which pulls us along in its current. It draws the soul upward. Our compassion and sympathetic nature is refined. We become more creative and appreciative of beauty.
Artistry is the result of a renewed ability to perceive and express harmony, proportion, and balance. This blends the discerning qualities of Hod with the unifying nature of Netzach. This results in the refinement in the astral light of both our mental and emotional expressions.
In Netzach, we also learn to refine our mental images and remain focused on our growth. Our personalities blossom when we receive the healing influence of the Self. The image-making faculty in Tiphareth is freed of lower distorting influences. Emotional and mental processes are brought into harmony. This process stabilizes over time.
Netzach is called Victory, for human desire becomes aligned with universal desire--the cosmic Will. Human imagination is the mediating force which makes it possible to manifest divine will in the material world. Intense desire holds the promise of fulfillment which already exists on a subtle plane.
All desires ultimately originate in Cosmic Desire (i.e. karma and destiny). The highest forms of desire are divine. God's desire results in the creation of a Universe. Our destiny is to synchronize with that and become its embodiment on earth.
Netzach and Devotion for the BelovedJust as an emergent Hod-function indicates intellect applied to learning spiritual wisdom, so an emergent Netzach function epitomizes devotion to the Great Work. This refines the instinctual force, and the soul becomes "magnetically" drawn toward the Self at Tiphareth.
Tiphareth influences Netzach as a creative and formative power from the Causal Plane level. Its influence enters the body through the limbic system in the brain. Netzach represents the pleasure principle or pleasure centers of the brain (dopamine and serotonin cycles). Devotion manifests for the Great Work when we are compelled to seek the Beloved or spritual guide. Through devotion, we adopt the principles of the guide. Identifying with the inner teacher influences values, choices, and feelings judgements. Spiritual masters teach more through love once the mind has been satisfied of the validity of the chosen path.
Netzach also means devotion to the imaginative faculty. The formation of images is the basis of art, and functions analogously to the development of Hod's abstract concepts and systems. Their complementary interaction produces tangible electromagnetic fields in the body. It is through our subtle field that the creative powers of life have the ability to effect psychosomatic change, even through placebo effect. The body/mind is transformed into a kind of "spiritual resonator."
Subjective values have the power to exert a great causal influence over us. Lifestyle choices have many repercusions which are no more than the results of our actions. Human values, ethics, and morals are very powerful agents in our shaping. We need inner guidance to choose our moral perspective most wisely.
Netzach is the sphere of the humanities and imagination. What is required for balance is an encompassing vision combining science and technology with ethical or social values. It is a return to the holistic science of Pythagoras, and the ideal state of Plato, as typical models.
Psychology tells us that mental images, feelings, ideas, thoughts, and sensations create neuropeptides that influence our mood and attitudes. That chemistry in turn directs the body, but the higher levels of brain activity control the lower. Introspection or inner experience is a potent transformative agent on all levels of consciousness, and has a generally calming effect.
Emergent properties of brain function include not only insights, memories, ideas, reason and logic (Hod), but also feelings, desires, needs, wishes, and values (Netzach). These emergent, holistic properties can not be predicted from the physiochemical function of the brain.
Why should we aspire toward Netzach? To continue to grow, we need to raise our sights to the higher values exemplified by Tiphareth. We need to contemplate that which is beyond self-interest, economic gain, politics, and the requirements of sustaining life. We need compassion and sustained passion for our mystical practice. Long term goals require continual reinforcement.
We must be involved, even if in a detached way, to have insights about human values. They may come as a revelation, or as internalizations from role models, mentors, or guides. Our minds can become habituated to more refined, compassionate responses. Thus Netzach is a compassionate way of being in the world. We reorient our value system toward universal harmony, realizing fundamentally that love is all that really matters.
THE ORPHIC MYSTERIESIf Hod, with its emphasis on mind is analytical and Aristotelian, Netzach with its emphasis on soul is Platonic. Its spiritual experience is "the vision of beauty triumphant." For this reason, it is linked with the humanities and the artistic, musical path of the Orphic Mysteries.
No prophet or sect had a monopoly on Orpheus' name, and many writings were spuriously attributed to him. Whether it was a mystery religion or not, this philosophy predates the time of Homer. Orpheus, the fabled cult leader was known as the "founder of intitations."
It is unknown where Orphism originated, but it is not a Mediterranean nor Hellenic cult. It shares many characteristics with shamanic practices, such as ecstasies, visions, raptures, and imaginary journeys, in particular the descent to hell to recover the beloved. Orpheus is also credited with being a healer and musician who could charm wild animals.
The doctrine of an immortal soul is central to Orphism. Orpheus was said to worship the Sun or Apollo. This means he aspired for Tiphareth, the sphere of the Sun. One legend even considered him the son of the god, much like Netzach emanates from Tiphareth.
The Pythagoreans wrote poetry they attributed to Orpheus, and the two cults share many similarities. Pythagoras claimed to be an incarnation of Apollo. Pythagorean doctrine included the transmigration of souls through different animal bodies and different regions of the universe, as well as a reverence for natural numbers. Many so-called Orphic rites were Egyptian and Pythaorean in origin, such as religious vegetarianism. They also attended to the music of the spheres, the inner music of the audible life stream.
Orpheus' descent to Hades links him to the Eluesinian mysteries, and he is alleged to be their founder. Orpheus offered a religious method radically different from the prevailing Olympian religion of Greece. Transmigration meant the adoption of the vegetarian imperative. Also required were asceticism or detachment, purification, and religious instruction concerning the immortality of the soul.
Orpheus founded a mystery school which explained the destiny of the soul. It explained the relation of each individual to the divine through the divinity of the soul which could return to its source. In this Orphic concept of immortality, the soul is considered to be entombed in the prison of the body. Its incarnation is a death-like state, (Trump XIII).
Orphics believed in the theory of metempsychosis, which means the passing of the soul at death into another body. The soul is judged on the basis of its good and bad points and is incarnated after a time in an appropriate body. The soul is condemned to transmigrate until it earns its final deliverance.
Orphic life included certain rules and purifications, but claimed salvation of the soul was the result of an "initiation" with cosmic and religious revelations. Orphic doctrine speaks of rhapsodies (inspired poetry) which concern the production of a multiform universe from a primordial unity. It offers hope that our own instinctual origin can be transcended by embodying divinity.
However, according to Plato, the road "is neither straightforward nor single...there are many forkings and crossroads." This sounds like an allegorical description of the Tree of Life, with its right, left and middle paths with crosspaths. Plato adds that the just are allowed to take the right hand road.
On the Tree of Life, the left-handed path is the way of magicians who gravitate to Hod and the right-handed path is the bhakti path of mystics and saints and proceeds through Netzach. Orphic philosophy was preparation for death. They contended the soul was judged for punishment or bliss; they aimed at maintaining memory of past lives. Pythagoras was said to possess this ability.
The legend of the descent of Orpheus to hell in search of his lost beloved was one of the most popular. A variation on this theme is Dante's Divine Comedy. Ecstatic journeys to infernal regions are a common theme in shamanism. There are extant Orphic texts which are similar to the Egyptian and Tibetan "books of the dead."
Orpheus and Pythagoras both exemplified the "divine man." They taught in the manner of spiritual philosophy and holistic education rather than forming religious bodies. Their orientation was transmitted from Plato to the humanists of the Italian Renaissance and on to Paracelsus in the 16th century. The Orphics held the trade secrets for a science of the soul, and were immensely popular with the public since they were based in ecstatic devotion. It is Right Hemisphere religion.
The Pythagorean-Platonic theory of Ideas has led to the concept of archetypes as models or paradigms of the phenomenal world. We comprehend and understand these Ideas, symbolized by the Platonic solids, through the faculty of the soul. For Plato, the soul was the source of knowledge.
The doctrine of transmigration implies that the soul can remember the archetypal world of Ideas and enjoy perfect knowledge and bliss communing with the original source. Death for the initiated soul is a return to this condition. Orphic philosophy taught the soul how to remain in the archetypal realm continually, becoming liberated from constant reincarnation.
This knowledge is latent in incarnate man, and requires applied philosophy to make it conscious. This Orphic mythology of the soul seems to have Oriental sources, which Plato welded into a personal version. It does not come from the traditional religion of Homer nor other Mediterranean cults. Plato considers man as a microcosm in a macrocosm, and speaks of the soul as a charioteer driving his chariot--an allusion to soul travel in a spiritual vehicle.
According to Mircea Eliade (1975), "Plato 'rediscovers' and develops what may be called the archaic ontology: the theory of Ideas carries on the doctrine of exemplary models that is characteristic of traditional spirituality." This newer formulation by Plato spread Orphic and Pythagorean doctrine far and wide. It even became a source of inspiration in the Empire of Alexander and the Hellenistic culture. It has grown into the great academic tradition of philosophy and the humanities.
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Date Created 9/20/99 Last Updated 8/3/02
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